The American Interest
Essays & Longer Thoughts
© Getty Images
Published on June 4, 2014
Obama's Failing Foreign Policy Groping for a Reset

From the Middle East to Europe to Asia, the Obama Administration looks increasingly adrift. A serious course-correction has to happen soon.

The world of June 2014 is not a world the Obama Administration wanted or foresaw. The plan was that six years of no-drama, no-stupid-stuff diplomacy would repair the damage of the Bush years, isolate jihadis in a democratizing Middle East, develop a new relationship with Iran, build a businesslike relationship with Russia, and pacify East Asia. Europe would sleep, the Middle East would cool, and by pivoting to Asia the United States would stabilize the world’s most dynamic economic region and enhance American prestige even as it slashed defense budgets and stepped away from the global front lines. It was a beautiful plan, but it hasn’t worked out.

The reset with Russia ended with Putin mounting the most brazen land grab in Europe since World War Two. The pivot to Asia brought us to the point where tense standoffs over half a dozen disputed sites in the waters off China have turned into potential flash points, and where senior Chinese generals use the harshest rhetoric against the United States since before Nixon’s visit to Beijing. Al-Qaeda is no longer “on the run” according to as sober a source as the Financial Times; it’s in its best shape since October 2001 by some analyses. The Syria horror continues to grow more intense and the consequences, more dire; Western intelligence agencies say they are unable to track the activities of thousands of Western passport holders now being trained in the finer points of jihad as they fight against Assad. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is in ruins despite major pushes by the President in each of his two terms. Saudi Arabia is cold to the Administration’s regional policy. Libya is a disaster. Years of “democracy promotion” in Egypt revealed the depth of American illusions about the Arab Spring and exposed the limits of our influence in Egypt. Congressional support for the Administration’s Atlantic and Pacific trade initiatives appears to be withering away. The President’s surge in Afghanistan (the war, let it be remembered, that he called a just and necessary war and vowed to win) is faltering ingloriously as officials race to redefine “success” faster than conditions deteriorate on the ground.

It increasingly looks as if Secretaries Clinton and Gates made the right move in getting out when they did. The contrast between the hope of the first term and the change of the second could not be more marked. But for the President and his embattled team contemplating the new world disorder, the going keeps getting tougher. And it’s not just that the foreign news makes for unpleasant reading; the sense that the President’s foreign policy has gone seriously awry is undercutting his authority at home and contributing to the GOP’s chances of taking the Senate and blocking the President’s agenda during his remaining two years.

The White House seems aware of the problem; the President’s speech at West Point last week was a rare, high-profile effort to seize control of the foreign policy discussion. But the speech (like so many others by the man once hailed as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln) soon sank without a trace.

At this point, none of President Obama’s foreign policy problems can be solved by a teleprompter. The President doesn’t need more speechwriters or better ones. He needs something totally different: He needs some real-world wins. You don’t demonstrate your mastery of world events by making smart speeches about how intelligent your foreign policy is; you demonstrate your mastery of world events by having things go your way.

If, for example, as America stepped up support for the Syrian rebels, President Assad suddenly found that the climate in Damascus was no longer salubrious and went shopping for a retirement home on the shores of the Black Sea, we would hear much less about a crisis in American leadership. If the United States and its NATO allies committed to major new defense installations in the Baltic republics and Poland, there would be less chest thumping in Moscow. If Ukraine’s military and security forces gradually became more effective, were better equipped, and began to drive the noisy rabble of Russia-sponsored thugs back over the frontier, President Obama wouldn’t need to make speeches about America’s commitment to eastern Europe.

The world is a big place, and there are lots of issues to choose from, but the President now urgently needs to put some points on the board. Otherwise, his authority will continue to erode.

As it is, the President appears to be second guessing himself, but in the worst possible way. He is stepping up support for the Syrian rebels, but not by enough to make a difference on the battlefield. He is proposing new military spending for Europe, but at such a low level that his proposal disappoints his allies and reassures his opponents. One can hope that some things are happening behind the scenes, but from what we can read in the press, President Obama is still splitting differences and splitting hairs when he could and should be making a stand. This is President Obama at his worst: months of agonizing and logic chopping ending in a strategy that fails.

The essence of strategy is to align your ends with your means: to match your goals and your resources. The core problem that has dogged this President from the beginning is a failure to do that. His goals have always been high and difficult, but he hasn’t wanted (or perhaps felt able) to invest the political, financial, or military resources that such large goals require. To heal the breach between the United States and the Arab world, for example, is a noble and a worthy goal, but it is extremely hard to do and would take much more money, political engagement, and policy change than President Obama has been willing to put on the table. Nuclear disarmament, a global climate change treaty, democracy in the Arab world, victory in Afghanistan, detente with Iran, the establishment of R2P as American doctrine, Israeli-Palestinian peace: This is less a foreign policy than a catalog of Holy Grails.

Choosing high goals is not necessarily a bad thing, even if you fail. As GK Chesterton put it, anything worth doing is worth doing badly. But to choose extraordinary goals without putting extraordinary resources into the quest to achieve them is a sign of foolishness and arrogance, not idealism. If you want to rid the world of nuclear weapons, for example, you would have to be willing to make a real issue of the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine is a nation that did what Obama would like many others to do: It gave up nuclear weapons in exchange for an agreement that its territorial integrity would be respected. The United States signed that agreement; President Obama must either commit himself to a vigorous defense of Ukraine now, or accept that the goal of a nuclear-free world is beyond his grasp. Characteristically, President Obama seems to be trying to split the difference. He doesn’t want to give up his high goal, but he doesn’t really want to pay for it, either. In Kiev this week he restated America’s commitment to Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, but only offered $5 million in additional (non-military) aid to a country under attack by a larger, more powerful neighbor.  Tyrants, tremble: the check is in the mail.

The mix of ambitious goals and mingy means doesn’t just leave the President suspended in the gap between his soaring words and sketchy deeds; it gets him and the country he leads into trouble abroad. This Administration, for example, prides itself on making U.S. diplomacy an instrument of human rights and democracy promotion. USAID and other U.S. agencies gave large grants to foreign NGOs working to train “civil society activists” and to build the capacity of independent groups to act in defiance of government censorship and controls. This is certainly a commendable idea from the standpoint of democracy promotion, but we ought to be clear that governments in countries like Russia, China, Egypt, and Cuba consider this an extremely hostile and confrontational policy. They are not wrong; it is a policy of soft regime change, seeking to undermine non-democratic regimes and hasten the day when they fall.

As the White House saw things, the United States was pragmatically seeking a businesslike relationship with Russia (unlike that stupid hardliner George W. Bush) while nobly keeping faith with our enduring commitment to democratic values. From Putin’s point of view, President Obama was babbling incoherently about “resets” while clumsily and ineffectively trying to undermine his regime. Putin’s puzzle was to figure out whether Obama was a knave or a fool; whether he was consciously deceptive in holding out the olive branch to Russia with one hand while concealing a dagger in the other, or whether Obama simply failed to understand that his Russia policy was an incoherent mess. Either way, there was very little chance that the Obamian policy mix would lead to better relations with Russia, and it is likely that the mix of hostility and incompetence that Putin thinks he sees in American policy informed his calculations about what he could do in Ukraine.

It is likely that China’s calculations about how hard it can press to challenge the United States are grounded in similar lines of thought. It is not that they think Obama is “weak” or “dovish”; they can count drone strikes as well as anybody else, and they are under no illusions about America’s instinctive hatred for authoritarian governance. Like the Russians, they see Washington’s move in Libya as revealing our deep-seated drive to get rid of regimes we don’t like and assume we would do the same to them if we could. But they also think that American policy is confused and narcissistic: that we proclaim ambitious goals because we like to flatter ourselves about our power and our nobility of character, but that we lack the resolution to achieve them. They think we will make speeches about rebalancing in Asia and commitments to our allies, but that as we perceive the risks and costs such commitments entail we will gradually back down.

Obama’s mix of high rhetoric, noble ideals and risk-averse decision-making plays into the stereotypes that Russians, Chinese, and others around the world have about the American national character. The idealistic speeches and the human rights gestures feed their fear of American purposes; the risk aversion plays into their contempt for American resolve. The result is to tilt policy in both Moscow and Beijing toward aggressive anti-Americanism. The governments in both countries believe that we are a threat to their internal security, but that we can be buffaloed if our opponents get tough.

What feels in the Obama White House like a smart mix of idealism and pragmatism looks very different abroad; unwittingly, the Administration’s “house style” of foreign policymaking is virtually guaranteed to promote aggressive behavior abroad.

What we have now is a deeply dispiriting spectacle: The world is not going Obama’s way, and the White House PR machine attempts to offset this with faux triumphs like the painfully overhyped Bergdahl exchange. For his own sake, and the sake of the nation he heads, President Obama needs to revisit his basic approach to world affairs. Fundamentally, he must either dial back his idealism or dial back on his promises to pull the United States back from the global front lines.

This is not, I fear, really a choice. In the abstract, there are good arguments for either course, but in the real world American opinion is unlikely to sustain a foreign policy that consigns human rights to the dustheap of history. I’ll return to this topic in another post, but it’s worth remembering that in the aftermath of the Vietnam War Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon attempted to chart a purely realist course in pursuing detente with the Soviet Union, recognition of Mao’s China (during the Cultural Revolution, no less), support for Pakistan against India, and otherwise following a cold, realist calculus of national interest and limited engagement. By the middle of the 1970s both parties were in revolt against what was seen as an immoral and un-American foreign policy.

In any case, the reset America needs now is in the White House, and we must hope that the President presses the button soon. It is much easier to lose credibility than to regain it; the longer U.S. policy drifts in its current odd mix of ambition and retrenchment, the less likely it is that the President will be able to turn things around.

  • Fred

    Has anyone else noticed that of the three baby boomer presidents so far, two have been among the worst ever, and the other was mediocre? Coincidence? I think not. Anybody really want to maintain that declinists are delusional in the face of the degeneration of the quality of our leaders in the baby boom? Does anyone really believe the Gen X presidents or Millenial presidents (if America hasn’t collapsed by then) will be any better?

    • ljgude

      Not to be too hopeful but there is the capacity of English speaking culture to really mess things up and then have a leader emerge can muddle through when things get serious.

  • wigwag

    Professor Mead is right; President Obama entered office promising one reset after the next. Instead what we’ve gotten is miscalculation after miscalculation. Obama’s reset with the Muslim world was supposed to depend on kissing up to the Muslim Brotherhood and embracing the likes of Morsi and Erdogan. That didn’t work out too well. So intent was the President on competing for the affection of “moderate” Islamists that he tried to win their hearts by slandering the Israelis at every available opportunity and treating the supposedly anti-Islamic Narendra Modi as persona-non-grata. What does he have to show for his efforts? Thanks to Obama peace between Israelis and Palestinians is more unlikely than ever and the man he shunned is now the leader of the world’s largest democracy. As if needlessly antagonizing Modi wasn’t foolish enough, the President and his incompetent Attorney General allowed a publicity-hungry U.S. Attorney in New York to turn an inconsequential dispute over wages paid by a low-level Indian diplomat to her domestic help into a major international incident.

    As for the failure of the reset with Russia, the invasion of Crimea is the least of it. What Professor Mead doesn’t mention in his interesting essay, is that slowly but surely, Russia and China are forging an alliance against the United States. Just as Nixon used his alliance with China to check Soviet ambitions, the Russians and the Chinese spy their own confluence of interest in rolling back a post Cold War order that neither of them like and they both resent.

    As for Iran, whatever you want to say about the Ayatollahs, they’re not stupid. Not only do they see that America reneged on its promise that the territorial integrity of the Ukraine would be respected if Ukraine only gave up its nuclear weapons, but they also see what happened in Libya. The “Great Loon” as Professor Mead called him gave up his nuclear program; thanks to Obama where is the “Great Loon” today? The Kim family in North Korea on the other hand kept their nuclear program; the third generation of that family is still murdering relatives and starving their countrymen with joyous abandon. It is clear to the entire world with the exception of American Democrats and European leftists that Obama and the West want a deal with the Iranians at any price. They will do whatever it takes to get one. The deal will surely not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons which means that ultimately nuclear weapons will proliferate throughout an incredibly volatile Middle East. Ironically, the President who came into office promising to lead us to a world without nuclear weapons may be responsible for making the world’s first nuclear war more likely than ever.

    • ljgude

      I often disagree with you,but not this time. That is about what I see too. I would add to your list of Middle Eastern failures his soft on Iran policy which he will pretty assuredly cap off with a faux nuke treaty which Iran has made perfectly clear all along they will ignore like the NORKs do. He was quoted a few month ago as saying that he didn’t need a George Kennan which is an open admission that he doesn’t understand – as George Kennan made plain to Truman – that it is impossible to do quid pro quo with totalitarians.

  • Angel Martin

    in my view Obama, in effect, abdicated as commander in chief when he refused to make a decision on his own red line in Syria, and instead tossed the issue to the congress.

    i think he should make it official and resign from the office entirely.

    Carter’s true naiveté and futility was not revealed until the Fall of 1979. at that point he had barely more than a year left.

    Obama still has two and a half years to go…

    • bigfire

      Some of us saw this coming a mile away. But we’re racists and bitter clingers.

      The only things Obama really cares about are the those that doesn’t need to be cleared with Valarie Jarrett and his wife. That means ESPN scoreboard and his golf handicap.

  • circleglider

    Mead defends Obama as not “weak or dovish” because he kills non-state actors with drones and overturns hated but weak authoritarian regimes like Libya. Obama is just “confused and narcissistic” and that “plays into the stereotypes that Russians, Chinese, and others around the world have about the American national character.”

    Let me let you and your interns in on a secret: everyone, including Americans, knows that those who speak loudly but are afraid to carry a big stick are weaklings and occasional bullies. Period.

    • Rupert Behrmann

      Exactly he must feel super cool and powerful droning pakistanis in the mountain but he knows it doesn’t make any difference.

  • Curious Mayhem

    An excellent brief for a Romney presidency. Too bad it’s 19 months too late. Still, it’s ahead of the curve for an Obama resignation.

  • Arkeygeezer

    Obama has two basic problems: He lies a lot, and he is not to be trusted. No amount of apologic rhetoric from the pundits can overcome those deficiencies.

    • stan

      For BO lies, slander and character assassination are a constant. Since the news media didn’t call him on it, it helped him get elected. But this kind of viciousness isn’t a framework for competent governance. It’s a framework for political attacks (provided the media is willing to serve as your propaganda wing). That’s the only thing it is good for. Unfortunately for the country, it’s the only thing he’s good at.

      Extraordinary arrogance to the point of hubris, coupled with incompetence and indifference to the point of cluelessness — not a formula for a successful administration.

      • Cindy

        Hubris, indeed. Professor Mead, with your background in the classics, you should recognize this plot structure and the end it foretells. The question for me is how, with your insightful and wide-ranging analyses regarding Obama’s disastrous policies both domestic and foreign, you persisted in voting for this tragic hero — twice?

        • FreedomRings_CA

          There is nothing “heroic” about Barack Obama.

  • Anthony

    This article fails to recognize that containing any possible Chinese aggression is much more important than the issues that are discussed in this article.

    If America wants to send China a message that America is serious about deterring any possible territorial expansion on it’s part, then the right course of action is to dramatically beef up our military presence there. Furthermore, Obama could announce that America does not, and never will, recognize China’s newly announced air defense zone.

    Syria and the problems in the Ukraine are a sideshow. I think anyone can see that getting bogged down in another middle east war will not convince China that we are serious. Over the long term, it actually makes sense to placate Putin to some extent so that Russia will be more amenable to joining an American led coalition to contain China in the future. After all, China’s rise definitely poses a threat to Russia’s vast, but underpopulated, Asian territory. I have no particular animosity toward China. It’s just a fact of life that it is the only country in the world that will have the financial power to challenge the USA in the coming decades. In recent years, as it has come to feel it’s own strength, China has become much more aggressive. This was a mistake on their part, but it was a godsend for us. We now know that the “peaceful rise” is over. Therefore, we can expect to see even more aggressive behavior in the future as it’s economy continues to grow.

    • FreedomRings_CA

      “Syria and the problems in the Ukraine are a sideshow.”

      And the assassination of Duke Ferdinand mattered to no one at all. . . .

  • ljgude

    Well professor Meade as a fellow member of the Eastern intellectual Establishment (Columbia ’64) long resident in Australia I can say that the Guardianista left here is quite mute about Obama, who shares their basic values, and is virulently anti American as ever. But that is nothing compared to the absolute anti Americanism of the Islamists. Both sides in Syria are our enemies. And as you say they are evidently so enthusiastic and numerous that we can’t even keep track of them. I can also assure you from my perch in Perth that Australia also enjoys the fruits of multiculturalism by contributing its fair share of idealists to the jihad. ISIS is crucifying people in Syria (after killing them first – at least so far) I presume trying to get our attention and tell us in iconic Christian terms exactly how they feel. If the Syrian rebels won I think it is obvious that they would kill every Alawite, Druze and Christian they could get their hands on. But enough of that – the idea that Obama is an idealist only goes so far to explain the problem. Unlike the gentleman’s C Yalie, Obama is probably smarter but is disabled by the post colonial ideology he absorbed with his mother’s milk and from the likes of Edward Said at Columbia. He is a classical example of our Western culture’s still persistent scholasticism which produces apparently brilliant graduates who think they know the answers and and have vanishingly little ability to correct when reality intrudes. Like many over educated people including myself he has no OODA loop. He does not Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Instead he puts a very narrow Postcolonial filter over foreign affairs (and a Social Democratic one on domestic affairs) and then, as you observe nicely, makes dithering and under resourced decisions that have little chance of success.

    • ThomasD

      If it is (a sort of) scholasticism it owes nothing to Aristotle, and most everything to Kant and Hegel (with a strong assist from Marx.)

  • Corlyss

    “A serious course-correction has to happen soon.”

    Wow! Talk about the triumph of hope over experience! Doofus will double down on everything that looks like failure to the rest of the world. Surely by now folks recognize the man is not capable of learning from his mistakes.

    • ThomasD

      These sorts of statements by Mead tell us he is still in serious denial about what sort of person Obama truly is.

      Maybe one day he and the others will come to accept what a profound display of wish casting, and poor judgement their vote for this cypher truly was.

    • Jacksonian_Libertarian

      I agree, Obama is a Racist Socialist Zealot who cannot learn from his mistakes. Obama’s only skill is reading high minded speeches from a teleprompter, but even Ronald “The Great Communicator” Reagan could only move public opinion by 1% and he was never as grossly overexposed as the Hard Selling Obama who gives more than 1 speech per day. I think many people are like me and have come to hate the sight and sound of Obama as familiarity breeds contempt.

      • FreedomRings_CA

        The contempt was bred long before the familiarity set in.

        Many Americans (not enough, but many) had BO’s number before the ’08 election.

        Explaining what happened in 2012 will, no doubt, be the subject of many history books.

        My own private theory is two-fold: The Republicans are stupid (Romney was the obviously wrong choice as nominee), and BO’s re-election organization worked their tails off fixing the election in enough precincts to insure he “carried” the day.

  • chrisn1234

    I hope you aren’t drawing a redline for the President, Mr. Mead.

  • Ghosts of Benghazi

    Can you spell MAN CAUSED DISASTER? Obama and his followers are domestic terrorists, straight up! Media, man up and call this spade a spade!

  • adk

    WRM: “He is stepping up support for the Syrian rebels, but not by enough to make a difference on the battlefield.”
    Any evidence of stepping up support? So far, it’s just Obama’s (vague) promises, again. Former Amb. Ford who resigned from the administration over its approach to Syria was asked about it yesterday on PBS — he wasn’t aware of any specific program.

    WRM: “Choosing high goals is not necessarily a bad thing, even if you fail.”
    Even if certain “high goals” are clearly unattainable? Many would call it folly. Take, eg, all that wasted time & effort Sec. Kerry recently spent on the so-called Middle East Peace Process (while neglecting everything else.) Total, predictable failure, and the Administration is now in a much worse place viz both Israel and Palestinians than in 2008 AND without any idea what to do next. Not a bad thing?

    WRM: “In any case, the reset America needs now is in the White House, and we must hope that the President presses the button soon.”

    Why would he? If Obama clearly showed anything over the last 5 1/2 years, it’s his inability not just to learn from failures, but even to acknowledge them. That’s what so scary about the rest of his term — anything could happen.

  • rheddles

    Having rehabilitated the reputation of George W. Bush, he is on the way to rescuing Neville Chamberlain.

    This will be a very different country in 5 years. It was bound to happen but history will not be kind to Mr. Obama. And it’s not him alone at fault. The entire establishment that supports and covers for him is rotten.

  • Boritz

    ” A serious course-correction has to happen soon.”

    You remember that scene in the movie “2012″ where the airplane is taking off as skyscrapers topple and chasms open in the earth? That was awesome.
    As long as Obama’s approval rating remains in the 40s nothing else matters. Not even a scene like the one in the movie.
    “has to happen” is a meaningless pronouncement such as:
    Palestinian and Israeli leaders must cooperate….
    Democrats and Republicans must work together…
    etc. etc. ad nauseam

  • opinionatedhermit

    Since Obama was elected and re-elected by voters who believed his teleprompter then it is reasonable to say that Obama believes his teleprompter will always be successful.
    The voters, particularly the highly intellectual Ivy-Inbred, who elected Obama have lost all credibility; their knowledge of the world is as empty as the words spoken by Obama’s teleprompter.

  • Gerald

    Strategy must begin with a realistic assessment of the situation. President Obama has continually exhibited no understanding of the reality of the world and compounded that mistake through an egotistical view of his own capability to influence nations through grandiose eloquence. In case after case he has selected people of limited experience and capability as his advisors, and paid far more attention to political games than assessing the reality of the objectives of other nations. The list of his failures is long, and successes are few if any. There is no reason at this point to believe that any improvement is likely. Just the thought of the team of Obama, Kerry, Rice and Hagel is enough to preclude optimism.

  • SonoranSnoozer

    Maybe Americans should focus on electing a president that has a track record of strong leadership skills and good decision making. Electing someone based on things like skin color, gender, gift of gab, etc., will invariably lead to the situation we now face.

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      Did you notice how carefully WRM removed Hillary from Obama’s mistakes?

      The Democrats just cannot give up identity politics. And with today’s shallow voters who vote based on Facebook memes, they will probably win in 2016. Voters nowadays see no connection between who and what they vote for to feel good, and the actual consequences.

      • FreedomRings_CA

        The Dims can’t give up identity politics because if they did, they would cease to exist as a meaningful political party. They have based their entire political strategy on the tactic.

        Current events now aptly prove for the democrats (in full, living color – pardon the pun) the pyrrhic-victory nature of the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency.

        I praise Barack Obama at this point. His failures are so egregious, so inept, so evident to the meanest intelligence, no one but a brain-dead ideologue would vote another dim-o-rat into office. Schrillary doesn’t have a prayer.

  • Winston

    Obama is weak and incompetent. That is all. Mead invested in the idea of Obama’s alleged competence long ago and cannot call a fool a fool.

    • rayward

      And an enemy of the Constitution.

  • Anthony

    Too easy a target (administration foreign policy) WRM and momentary schadenfreude by way of simple and easy analysis. Indeed, the affirmation by many commentators that there is no there there comes as no surprise. Be that as it may, there is more than inconstancy and inexperience that defines this presidency. “In president Obama America acquired a president with ambivalence towards nation he leads” and its foreign engagements. WigWag provides below ample examples of said ambivalence. So In the end WRM, current essay is just latest profile intimating President Obama is destroying our country’s image (power/influence/recognition) both home and abroad. Credibility is almost impossible to regain once lost.

  • NCMountainGirl

    He’s incompetent. After all, only ten years ago he was a backbencher in the legislature of a badly managed state with a well deserved reputation for corruption. He has long demonstrated a breath taking lack of interest in any event that happened before his own lifetime, unless it is to latch on to quotes and tidbits to put in his speeches. That they be factual is strictly optional. Bo knows current political events, pop culture, current sports and that’s about it, folks. Carter, Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton all wanted to know how things like a plane, limo or ship worked. Bo’s only interest is if they are appropriate to his elevated status. He is also a highly insular personality with a slim record of forming friendships or of courting political allies. His one real skill seems to be getting affluent white liberals like the author to do his bidding. On top of it all, he seems to believe his own hype about being smart and talented.

    You got played, suckers.

  • pabarge

    Walter Russell Mead, the author of this article voted for Barack Obama – both times. Never forget this.

  • Jack Kalpakian

    The most brazen land grab in Europe took place in 1975 and was aided and abetted by the United States. Until that is reversed and Kosovo is owned up to as the mistake it was, do not expect others to respect borders that the US either does not respect or even assists others in modifying.

    • moderate Guy

      The (Albanian) residents of Kosovo “grabbed” their won land??

      • Jack Kalpakian

        They were citizens of Serbia. The US has category rejected ethnic basis of border drawing Bosnia, now why is it applying it in Kosovo? Why not Karapakh? They did not win anything, the US conquered and gave their the land.

        • moderate Guy

          That’s the point. They did not wish to be “citizens” of Serbia. The fact that US, stupidly, rejected sensible solution in Bosnia (or Syria or Iraq) is not an excuse for allowing Serbia to occupy Kosovo.

          • Jack Kalpakian

            How Convenient, when partition does not favor pro US factions and makes sense, it is a mistake, others wont see it that way, they will see it as hypocrisy and will use it. There will be many more Crimeas. Also, Kosovo is nothing other than a sideshow as far as I am concerned, the real violation is Turkey in Cyprus.

          • moderate Guy

            Kosovo Mulslims are hardly pro-US faction. And in the end Kosovo became independent; it was not annexed by US. Crimea was no so lucky.

          • Jack Kalpakian

            OK — live in your own world. It does not matter whether Kosovo became independent, its borders were forcibly drawn by its patron and ally — the US, and as for Kosovar politics, it is probably the only Muslim majority country with pro American sentiments. Besides, the real issue is Cyprus and America’s ugly role in its partition, ethnic cleansing and political cover for Turkey. I think it should be obvious to you that I do not give a damn about Kosovo by now and have no real desire to discuss it.

          • moderate Guy

            What IS obvious is that you some sort of a brain dead teenager with no ability to discuss anything; one that runs away every time his “arguments” are shown to be ridiculous and uninformed.

          • Jack Kalpakian

            Thank you very much and on that polite note, Mr. “Moderate Guy” I will leave you to your own devises.

          • moderate Guy

            You are very welcome. I have noticed your ilk has a big problem with reality and truth.
            Glad to provide a service.

  • Andrew Allison

    With luck, Bergdahlgate will prove to be he final straw.

    • moderate Guy

      The MSM and Demokrats in Congress are already circling the wagons around the dipsh##t. So, I guess, no such luck.

  • koblog

    Putin’s puzzle was to figure out whether Obama was a knave or a fool;…

    Puzzle? Obama is clearly both.

  • Bryan Schmick

    In summary, president Obama is a community organizer. He believes all he needs to do is make a speech and move on to the next topic. He has shown this time and again speaking about his outrage, presuming the problem fixed, ignoring the problem and moving on to his next outrage. What America needs is a leader that can fix problems, not one who will just talk about problems. There was no good choice in 2008. In 2012, America had a choice between a proven problem fixer and a proven problem talker. Hopefully, 2016 will provide at least one proven fixer and America will choose that one.

  • Zapedowski

    The only thing I find strange about the current wave of criticisms of the Obama foreign policy is how long it has taken the press to take the measure of this President.

    Right from the beginning, you could tell that Obama was the type of guy who gave lofty speeches but didn’t have the balls to deliver what he promised. The first thing he did as President in the foreign policy sphere was to back-down from his promise to close Guantanamo Bay (did he think that he WOULDN’T face a conservative backlash if he actually followed through?). The second thing he did was to demand that the Israeli government stop building settlements in the West Bank, only to back down and do nothing when his demands were ignored (did he think that Netanyahu WOULDN’T try to stand firm, and rely on the knee-jerk pro-Israeli orientation of U.S. domestic politics to get the new President back in line?).

    Something like that happens once, and you put it down to a political miscalculation. It happens again and again, and you realize that you’re dealing with a lofty wimp.

    Obama seems to misunderstand the fact that great speeches are the cherry that is supposed to go on top of great accomplishments — giving a speech is not, in itself, an accomplishment of any sort (although the Nobel committee apparently feels otherwise). How many people today would remember Reagan saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” if it hadn’t been followed by the wall actually falling?

    It is a sad chapter in American politics, in light of the high hopes that many – including myself – pinned to Mr. Obama in 2008. Lofty rhetoric on the campaign trail turned into little more than lofty rhetoric in the Oval Office. He turned out to be all bark, no bite, and there are many unsavory characters both in this country and abroad who must have been very relieved by this.

    • Orleans

      It has taken the press 6+ years to take ” measure of this President,” but much of it still hasn’t and neither have most of his supporters.

      • FreedomRings_CA

        The more fool they be, then.

  • moderate Guy

    “… that the President will be able to turn things around.”
    The president? Turn around? I didn’t know Ted Cruz was in the White House already.

    • tpaine1

      Cruz would be a definite “step up.”

  • indi2

    Don’t you understand? Obama is trying to set a new course for America. It is a long process and Obama would be hard press to admit failure at this point. And it is indeed too early to tell. Reset has to take place and Obama has started it. It may not look good at the moment. But It is complicated and what we do or not do does not necessarily make the world happen the way we want it to happen. The fact of the matter is that America can no longer (cannot afford) play the game we used to play–be world police, be a fat cat, etc. The world will miss America when they are in need. But then they will have to realize that they are on their own now. Our too eager to help attitude has created many handout seeking countries around the work. It is like the never grow up children. Evan rich countries like Japan and Korea are still being “protected” by the US. That has got to change. The new world order will settle in and America will play a role it can only afford to play–good or bad. It is a reality. Obama will be remembered in setting the new course for America. The outcome is unknown. It could be bad, or good. And it will take a few more presidents to continue the work. People are suffering domestically. We need to put our house in order and take care of our own people first. It has been too much on international affairs. A more balanced course is the right thing to do for the future of both US and international communities. Yes, power will be shared by other countries such as China, India and some oil rich countries. Whether we like it or not. It is inevitable. And the sooner we get used to it, the better.

    • tpaine1

      There will never be another provably “the worst President in US history” than Barack Obama. He has, with help from Pelosi and Reid, consigned the Democrat Party to minority status for the next generation.
      THAT is a good thing for America.

      • indi2

        Hard to say. The Left has adopted a strategy that will benefit its candidates for many years to come. That includes granting millions and millions of illegal aligns citizenship and give handout to about half of the voters. You ever noticed that Obama’s rating is rather stable at the low 40%? He virtually locks in nearly half of the voters that way. (nearly all black votes and 3/4 plus Latino and Asian votes) With some votes from the independents, and they can win the elections easily. GOP cannot count on easy win after Obama.

        • Bryan Schmick

          The left wants people to stay poor. The poor reliably vote for more handouts. If the poor people were self sufficient, they wouldn’t need the power Democrats. Why else do the Democrats consider employers evil?

    • Bryan Schmick

      You start off saying America’s policy of helping needy nations was bad for those nations because of the fact that it encouraged them to rely on handouts. Then you say president Obama’s policies of helping needy Americans is good while ignoring the fact that it encourages them to rely on handouts. It reminds me of the cartoon showing the government discouraging feeding bears because it creates dependency while encouraging welfare spending. Apparently bears aren’t allowed to vote but every American pushed into dependency is encouraged to vote for the Democrats that increase their dependency. Then you push the ideology that America is not great. We must share that greatness with countries like China that kill their people to keep them in line. In India, the Catholic church feeds 25,000 people in a single city per day. Fortunately, India has realized its’ fallacy and elected a conservative government. The sooner we scrap the anti-American viewpoint of the Democrats and establishment Republicans, the better.

      • indi2

        I do not like the anti-American view from the left. But many countries think we are a bully despite the aids and benefits they receive from the US. We are a great country. There is no doubt about it. But how do we get ourselves called “bully”? It is something we need to address. The way to address it is to play our roles properly. You ever think why our deficit is so great? That has a lot to do with how we spend our money and energy internationally. And that directly impacts the quality of life of our people. Obama is a lousy president for sure. But even a bad guy has something good to offer. We need to rethink our role in the world stage, which the pro military power GOP will never do. Obama does not lack great ideas. His problem is to put his personal and his parties interests in front of the interest of the people and the nation.

        • Bryan Schmick

          Think about it for a moment, if we stop giving aid with demands we will be less of a bully? Every country has the ability to say no. We are not forcing our money down their throats except in the fact that they can do better themselves by reducing corruption and adopting democracy/capitalism. The fact is that these countries leaders demand their perks and our money while castigating us. I agree that we should give less. That doesn’t mean I agree with the philosophy that we should ignore the rest of the world. If the rest of the world would reduce its’ corruption to even our high levels and increase freedom to our levels, we would all be better off. We are considered bullies because we believe everyone should be free and have a chance to succeed.

    • Arkeygeezer

      i agree with you. I like Obama’s West Point speech. I only wish he was less of a liar and more of a person to be admired. I guess we can’t have everything. However, if quit using the military solution as a quid pro quo, and more of a trader nation, the better off we will be.

      Lets leave the various philosophies aside, and get along with the World.

    • FreedomRings_CA

      “And it is indeed too early to tell”.

      This is the refrain The Left (people like you) always tell themselves whenever their lofty “high-ideals” (gag) plans don’t work.

      The Left will never succeed in its “aims” for one simple, clarifying reason: HUMAN NATURE, DUDE !!!

  • tpaine1

    Top twenty “accomplishments” of the Democrats and Barrack Hussein Obama”

    #1 When Barack Obama entered the
    White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.7
    percent of working age Americans have a job.

    #2 Since Obama has been
    president, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S.
    economy have been part-time jobs.

    #3 The number of full-time
    workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record
    that was set back in 2007.

    #4 It is hard to believe, but an
    astounding 53 percent of all American workers now make less than $30,000 a
    year.

    #5 40 percent of all workers in
    the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker
    made back in 1968

    #6 When the Obama era began, the
    average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is
    36.6 weeks.

    #7 During the first four years of
    Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding
    8,332,000. That far exceeds any previous four year total.

    #8 According to the U.S. Census
    Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income
    pie than has ever been recorded before.

    #9 When Obama was elected, the
    home-ownership rate in the United States was 67.5 percent. Today, it is 65.0
    percent. That is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.

    #10 When Obama entered the White
    House, the mortgage delinquency rate was 7.85 percent. Today, it is 9.72
    percent.

    #11 In 2008, the U.S. trade
    deficit with China was 268 billion dollars. Last year, it was 315 billion
    dollars.

    #12 When Obama first became
    president, 12.5 million Americans had manufacturing jobs. Today, only 11.9
    million Americans have manufacturing jobs.

    #13 Median household income in
    America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over
    $4000 during that time span.

    #14 The poverty rate has shot up
    to 16.1 percent. That is actually higher than when the War on Poverty began in
    1965.

    #15 During Obama’s first term,
    the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000
    per day

    #16 When Barack Obama entered the
    White House, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there
    are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

    #17 At this point, more than a
    million public school students in the United States are homeless. This is the
    first time that has ever happened in our history. That number has risen by 57
    percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

    #18 When Barack Obama took
    office, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Today, it
    is $3.53.

    #19 Electricity bills in the
    United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five
    years in a row.

    #20 Health insurance costs have
    risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president, and Obamacare is going
    to make things far worse.

  • garyw631

    That is the problem now, he has pivoted to first one thing then another then he shifted focus from The Middle East to Europe then to Asia. He has pivoted and shifted until everyone’s head is spinning. Yet, he has screwed them all up. Every one of his pivots and shifts both foreign and domestic are total failures.

  • xvicex

    Been this way since the start..Obama’s foreign policy has always been one based upon the naive collegic activist.. its just more noticeable now after the “Red Line” incident and the subsequent Putin, Assad, Iran, China et all taking advantage of the situation more overtly.

  • Anjaan Aadmi

    So, support for Pakistan against India was a realistic cold calculated policy formulated by Kissinger-Nixon in the 70s … what have the people of America got out of it in the past 40 years … ??

  • toumanbeg

    Mr. Mead, you are old and out of touch with today’s children. The policy established by the so called greatest generation and carried on by the Boomers is finished. Kaput. Dust in the wind. This might be a good thing, since evidence showing the policy was a failure with no chance of succees that harmed America is pleantiful.
    That debate needs to be held. Generation X doesn’t want to pay for a new cold war and the Millennials don’t want to fight it. Considering that Millennials will be 50+% of the electorate by 2020, I suspect their opinions will matter. American citizens of any cohert do not want be the world’s cop. The enormous defense budget that requires is a greater threat to America then ANY foreign power.
    Ameruica has no national interests in what happens in Syria, the Ukraine or any other 3rd world mudhole. If 3rd worlders want to kill each other, let them. They will stop when they get tired of it. Americans killing 3rd worlders doesn’t help. The onlt Americans that profit from ‘defence’ are the Robber Barons of the MIC. Why should normal Americans suffer to make a few rich people richer?

  • Rupert Behrmann

    I don’t think that Obama has failed with his foreign policy. He has got america out of Afghanistan and has made sure that america does not force itself in other countries issues like with russia and ukriane. In war he let Europe lead on Libya and refused to attack Syria when it was clear that the US would have no allies. In regard to the muslim world he’s shown that he is not against islam by supporting the muslim brotherhood and by showing that america is not longer an ally of Israel. I don’t see how any of his foreign policy plans have failed?

    • indi2

      Rupert, Is getting America out of Afghan an achievement in the long run? Only the history can tell. We will be seen defeated. Is that an ahievement in your eyes? We did not force ourselves into a lot of conflicts as you said. Sometimes we supported our allies and sometime those countries called for our interventions. Obama’s policies will have long term consequences, good or bad. Maybe it is too early to see if he succeeds or fails. You don’t see it now doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.

      • Rupert Behrmann

        I think getting out of Afghanistan was a big achievement as no one thought we’d ever win there and there was not strategic point. I think one of Obama’s big mistakes had been doubling down on Afghanistan while Bush had kept Afghanistan to a minimum and fought a war america could win – Iraq. But Obama did see the errors of his ways quickly and quit. America also quit and lost in Vietnam without great negative consequences. All this stuff about American weakness is rubbish too as Ukraine and Syria have zero strategic value and its madness to get involved in civil wars. And I think it could be argued that his Israeli strategy is a good one, i.e. use the fact that we give them lots of weapons as a way to force them to talk to the palestinians and make peace. The strategy was working until the Palestinian government decided to join with Hamas which gave Israel an easy way out but the Palestinians vetoed Clintons peace talks too and no one said Clinton failed.

        • Bryan Schmick

          You claim Ukraine has no strategic value. Here goes:
          1 – Ukraine is widely known as the bread basket of Europe. Until the Socialists took over Russia, it was the world leading producer of food. Since the takeover, Russia’s main weakness has been lack of food which it had to purchase from the West with hard currency. These days, Russia is still lacking in food production and needs to purchase food.
          2 – Russia’s stranglehold over Europe lies primarily in it’s natural gas production and sale to the rest of Europe. Germany alone buys 30% of its’ energy from Russian natural gas sales. Recently, huge natural gas reserves were discovered off the shores of Crimea (these were discovered about a month before Russia’s taking over of Crimea).
          3 – Russia rents naval stations in Crimea because it gets them a year round access to the med and the rest of the world.
          Yet you claim there is no strategic value? What is your news source and what would it take for you to consider expanding it?

          • Rupert Behrmann

            Everything you have said is in praise for what Obama has done.
            1: If Russia needs food from Ukraine than Obama (and EU’s) coup has weakened Russia as now Ukraine won’t want to sell them food.
            2: During Obama’s presidency the USA has become self sufficient in natural gas through fracking. As such the arab countries that were selling to america will start selling to europe and pushing the price down. The UK is also going to start fracking so the price will fall further, and a lower natural gas price weakens Russia in a BIG way as its their only real export and gas oligarchs are putins main allies.
            3: By engineering coup in Ukraine Obama forced putin to waste precious resources invading crimea just so he could keep a port that russia has always had. He has also had to push lots of irregular forces into ukraine to migrate the threat they now face to him which is very expensive. Also these irregular forces usually help keep the order in the islamic separatist states so with them gone Putin will face more problems there and as such ruin his reputation as a law and order guy in russia.
            4: Something you have missed is that Putin has been building up a reputation as a statesman mainly through “trying” to help with the middle east, famously stopping America bombing Syria. Now thats all ruined as he’s seen as a thug for invading Crimea and was ignored by other world leaders at the Dday celebrations.

            So without costing a single american life and at low cost (due to shared costs with EU), Obama has caused multiple serious problems for putin. I’d also add that by quitting Afghanistan Obama is freeing up lots of islamist fighters to cause problems with their closest geographical enemy, Russia.

          • Bryan Schmick

            1 – Russia increased the cost of Nat Gas to Ukraine. That same Ukraine that can’t survive without energy. Russia can grow some of it’s own food in Crimea and buy the rest elsewhere. No one else has the surplus Nat Gas and the ability to sell it to Ukraine. Ukraine is still strategic.
            2 – Public companies have increased Nat Gas production through fracking. President Obama’s EPA has been trying to stop them. Now you claim the increase as a pres Obama victory? Doesn’t matter. We can’t ship it to Europe in enough time. Ukraine is still strategic. More LNG facilities and ships might reduce that but guess who’s EPA is fighting that also.
            3 – Are you seriously giving pres Obama credit for engineering the coup in Ukraine? Did he do more for the rebellers in Ukraine than he did in Iran? Offer empty platitudes. He pushed irregular forces into Ukraine? Where did they come from and isn’t that just as bad as what Russia did?
            4 – The fact that America did not act aggressively in Syria is because president Obama couldn’t find anyone else to share the blame. These days, president Obama is taking credit for Putin’s disarmament plan.
            5 – Who do these Islamic fighters consider the great Satan? Russia or America? Did these Islamic fighters target America or Russia on 9/11?

          • Rupert Behrmann

            I know you don’t want to give credit but he’s america’s president and so what happens in foreign policy in his term is due to him.
            1: Obama and US don’t care about Ukraine and Russias food. If Obama was a capitalist he might have thought about selling food to russia but he isn’t so why would he care?
            2: We don’t need to ship gas, the gas that qatar sends us will soon go to other places and so compete against putins oil. So BIG win against Putin. Forget about the EPA, thats all a smoke screen, we’re fracking in a big way under the obama presidency.
            3: US foreign policy has been to support (i.e. pay for/train/create) “pro-democratic” groups in eastern europe and russia. These same democratic groups helped kick out put in’s democratically elected mate. So huge win for obama over putin. Was this policy morally right and did it help the average ukranian? Probably not but that wasn’t obama’s goal. It helped US and hurt Russia BIG time.
            4: Syria was another win for obama in my opinion. The negative view is that thousands of people are died, obama looked stupid with his red line and putin got the credit. Reality is americas 3 most dangerous enemies (jihadists, hezbollah and Iran) are fighting and killing each other. Our 2 biggest strategic enemies, Russia, and Iran, are wasting huge resources (they don’t have) backing up the Syrian regime while the US is spending nothing. The disarmament plan might have made Putin look good temporarily but the real winner was Israel as they no longer have the fear of a chemical weapons attack.
            5: Terrorists have attacked Russia many times. AlQuida has changed into a regional operation so less likely to attack US soil as they have more realistic regional goals. US also far more secure, air guards on every plane, strict visa requirements etc.

          • Bryan Schmick

            It’s amusing that you began this whole topic claiming Ukraine has no strategic value but now admit you where incredibly misinformed. Food, Energy, and Year round naval ports with easy access to the med and the rest of the world.

            It’s interesting that you admit pres Obama is not a Capitalist. In the economic systems of government, Capitalism is the opposite of Socialism. What economic system of government do you believe pres Obama supports?

            Capitalism has created more wealth than any other (and president Obama doesn’t support that) and Socialism is a proven failure every time it has been tried.

            You claim president Obama doesn’t care about starving and energy poor Ukrainians. Why did he go to war in Libya again?

            Gas – It is natural gas that gives Russia a stranglehold on Europe. It is oil that Qatar ships. The two are different. Most of the middle east burns off it’s natural gas as an unwanted side effect of oil production. Since Europe is being strangled by Russia’s natural gas, it is natural gas that needs to be delivered to reduce that stranglehold (or replace the European electricity generators to oil.

            It was Reagan’s cold war, economic strategy that reduced Russia’s dominance over Eastern Europe. Now that Russia is reclaiming it’s territory, you claim this as a victory for president Obama over Russia? Have you seen the cartoons about a special kind of stupid?

            Weren’t America’s three most dangerous opponents (according to you) already fighting each other in Syria before president Obama created his stupid red line (also according to you)? So you credit president Obama’s stupidity for creating a situation that already existed? Russia’s biggest sales of surplus military equipment is to Syria and that continues. Iran continues its’ aggressiveness while president Obama claims they are being peaceful thanks to his cutting Iran’s sanctions. Meanwhile, you disagree and agree with president Obama.

            Terrorists have attacked Russia many times. Anything to compare with 9/11?

          • Bryan Schmick

            crickets 3

        • Bryan Schmick

          Afghanistan – the worlds largest producer of Opium and a large amount of the money supporting terrorist activities. Is it your proposal that we allow terrorists to fund themselves fully? Even president Obama considered Afghanistan the good war.

          • Rupert Behrmann

            Obama sent over 100.000 soldiers to Afghanistan and achieved nothing. We spent over 50billion just on MRAPs which will all have to be left there as it would cost billions to bring them back. I guess he wanted a win like bush had had with the iraq surge but thankfully he quickly saw his error and fired the general who conned him into it. Maybe thats why he did the trade for that deserter as he knew in his heart that he’d sent him into afganistan on a fools mission. The reality is that afghanistan cannot be conquered. Even the russians and brits failed. Much better and cheaper just to keep drones in the area to kill as many terrorists as possible.

          • Bryan Schmick

            Gen Petraeus was that General that convinced president Obama to surge in Afghanistan. President Obama promoted him to Director of the CIA. The surge might have worked. We’ll never know because president Obama hamstrung it from the start. Nobody sailed around the world, until it was done. Nobody walked on the moon, until it was done. Nobody solved Einstein’s unsolvable problems, until it was done. What do you think of the philosophy that a person shouldn’t try because someone else failed?

          • Rupert Behrmann

            No it was McCrystal and obama fired him. Only way you could win in Afghanistan is being more brutal than the taliban which is pretty hard. Also nothing there to bomb.

          • Bryan Schmick

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-kay/the-petraeus-legacy-is-af_b_2136835.html

            http://consortiumnews.com/2012/10/09/how-petraeuss-afghan-surge-failed/

            Petraeus pushed for a surge. McCrystal wasn’t the only one. President Obama put Petraeus in charge of the surge at about the same time he was talking accelerated draw down (anti-surge) Petraeus was promoted from general two steps below Chairman Joint Chief and Three steps below Sec Def and Promoted to Sec CIA.

            http://www.nationaljournal.com/petraeus-acknowledges-differences-with-obama-over-afghan-drawdown-20110623

          • Rupert Behrmann

            Petraeus did surge in Iraq. Then McCrystal came in and sold obama by offering to do it with less troops and tougher rules of engagement. It failed (and he bad mouthed Obama) so was fired and replaced Petraeus who relaxed rules of engagements.

          • Bryan Schmick

            Rules of engagement do not come from the general in the field. They do not come from the generals in the Joint Chiefs. They come from the president. p.s. You failed to argue the point that Petraeus urged a surge, pres Obama approved it (then limited it to the point where it couldn’t succeed, then promised to flee). Your comment also confirmed it was Petraeus that promoted the surge and got promoted while suggesting that president Obama OK’d tougher ROE’s which could be taken two ways. More freedom for our troops which didn’t happen or more restrictions for our troops which did. Are you saying that pres Obama believed we could restrict the numbers and actions of our troops while increasing the outcome with pres Obama promising to leave immediately? Previously, you said the only way to succeed in Afghanistan was to be more brutal. Now you say pres Obama believed he could risk additional Americans while being less brutal. There are special kinds of stupid.

          • Bryan Schmick

            crickets 2

        • Bryan Schmick

          Syria – Pres Obama justified our intervention in Libya because of the POTENTIAL loss of a few thousand civilian lives in Libya. Compare that to a real loss of 160,000 civilian lives in Syria. The fact is that president Obama is only willing to use force if he can blame it on someone else. Hardly an example of strength. Russia (Syria’s arms supplier) vetoed the UN push into Syria and created the WMD reduction that Kerry and Obama bragged about. The fact is, we are a minor player in world events and nations we don’t agree with are expanding their roles to fill that vacuum.

        • Bryan Schmick

          Israel. The Israelis have always been willing to talk peace. The Palestinians have always demanded concessions to talk peace. The Palestinians have never even considered allowing Israel to exist. The fact is that if the Palestinians laid down there weapons, there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down there weapons, there would be no more Israel.

          • Rupert Behrmann

            I think you’re miss-understanding what I meant. EU and other countries believe that Israel has to make a peace deal now with Palestine to stop palestinian suffering. They believe that america could easily force israel to make peace due to the amount of money and weapons that the US gives israel as it is commonly believed that it would fall without US money and weapons. They believe that the US help has actually encouraged Israel to separate itself from palestine through the separation barrier and to make it believe that it can survive and thrive without making peace. Obama has been the first president to actually do what the EU wanted and forced Israel into peace talks and forced them to make whatever concessions where needed to start these peace talks. Of course you are right in saying that the palestinians have no interest in peace and as such joined with hamas as they knew that israel would never be able to negotiate with hamas. Obama being a realist knew that the game was up and so pulled out. But foreign policy wise he showed our allies that he was listening and showed the muslim world that he wasn’t controlled by israel.

          • Bryan Schmick

            The problem is not Israel’s willingness to make peace. Every time someone asks the two to come to a peace treaty, Israel comes and gives up something. Palestine can’t even agree that Israel has a right to exist. It was sec Kerry showing how foolish we are by believing that this time, Lucy would hold the football so Charlie Brown could kick it. People complain about the billions we give to Israel, but not the billions we give to Palestine through the UN. Or the millions Israel gives to Palestine.

          • Rupert Behrmann

            Israel is not willing to make peace on any terms that the palestinians will accept. If you look at northern ireland Britain pretty much made peace on the IRA’s terms. I think the main issue is that the separation barrier means that Israel does not need peace which both Kerry and the EU don’t understand.

          • Bryan Schmick

            Can’t really blame Israel, the only terms Palestine is willing to accept is genocide of the Jewish people. Look at what they teach their children – it is glorius to die if you take Jewish people with them. What you are missing out on is that Israel wants peace to save its’ citizens from the thousands of terrorist rocket attacks Palestine conducts. Palestine only wants to kill all the Jewish people and then steal what they have created.

          • Guest

            cricket

          • Bryan Schmick

            crickets

        • indi2

          “lost in Vietnam without great negative consequences”. I think lots of people would disagree with you on this. On Israel and Palestine I think they both danced around and around in order to blackmail the US in giving them money. It is an ongoing show with no end in sight. They do not want to end.

          • Rupert Behrmann

            I meant losing the war didn’t have big negative consequences for the country. Reagan was still able to win the cold war and the economy grew until the crisis.

  • http://www.ralphemmers.com/ ralph emmers

    WRM echoes Walter Lippmann’s commitment gap: “Foreign policy consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.” Obama’s “mix of high rhetoric, noble ideals and risk-averse decision-making” exacerbates this gap. It’s the inverted big stick strategy. Speak loudly, and carry a small stick—you won’t get far.

  • MarVista509

    He is very ignorant and arrogant!
    Beyond salvation!

  • Snapnut

    With President Obama, what you see is what you get. He is a lawyer by profession and his law course at Harvard was perhaps not the best bed-rock for international diplomacy. I am not sure who his international policy advisers are, but sure looks like some heads need to roll over there!

    • cas47

      One of them is apparently Tommy Vietor, the genius who said about Benghazi,” dude, that was,like, two years ago”. I understand he got his start driving the campaign van.

  • Robexaminer

    plan was that six years of no-drama, no-stupid-stuff diplomacy– sounds just like erdogan’s. which worked out abt equally well. and no coincidence they were best buds.

  • bygeorge

    Obama is accused of being a narcissist. Why? Probably because he was raised by women, like Bill Clinton was, and his policieis today, as president, are driven by the women he surrounds himself with as WH advisors today: Valerie Jarrette, an Iranian, and Susan Rice, an apparent “useful idiot”. He trained as a lawyer but has no lawyer skills, and his law licence, as I understand it, has been revoked.
    His history is unknown to us except when exposed in bits and pieces, much like his foreign policy achievemenrts, which may or may not contain some seed of truth.
    His only gift to politics is oratory but only when his telepromptor is available, He cannot think on his feet and, as was demonstrated in his press conference with the British PM, he hems and haws, stumbles over his own rhetoric, and is basically pissing up a rope. He has to go!

  • Joe_NS

    Barack Obama’s fatal weakness, and our hard luck, is that he is an incompetent executive. He has no idea how to manage or motivate an organization, any organization, of whatever size, devoted to whatever purpose. When it comes to being a competent executive, well, he plays one on TV is the best that might be said of him. He is, in other words, at his core an actor: self-absorbed, self-regarding, in a world of his own devising.

    His managerial deficits are especially clear in domestic politics. The oft-repeated rubbish about “Republican obstructionism” being the real problem in Washington, a fable that the Democrats sell relentlessly with the cooperation of a multitude of media whores, obscures the fact that Obama cannot compromise, that he simply doesn’t know the meaning of the word, despite all his platitudinous preaching to the contrary. He resorts continually, with absolutely no sign he’s learning how ridiculous he sounds, to false dilemmas, between a noble and uncorrupted policy proposal—his, of course—and a deal with the Devil himself. You do not compromise with Satan, which suits Obama, since he has no inclination or ability to compromise with anyone. The attitude spills over into his working relationship with Democrats, which is moribund. The most important example is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he happily turned over to a committee numbering in the hundreds—the Congressional Democrats—with predictably disastrous results, because Obama has neither ability nor appetite for actually executing anything. Forget Lyndon Johnson. One must go back to James Buchanan to find his equal at managerial impotence.

    As with all narcissists President Obama expects wholehearted agreement—or else. The sole means he has ever really enjoyed for influencing both members of the opposition and his own party, is the considerable pressure that the media, shamelessly conniving with his publicity department, can bring to bear. In other words, he leaves the work of an executive to non-executives, whose skills are relentless lying, defamation, and misrepresentation.

    Which brings me to foreign policy, an arena in which he cannot depend on the media. Putin, Assad, et al. are unconcerned with media pressure. The European and Asian media cannot be depended on to attack his opponents or coordinate robotically with his flacks, because, unlike NBC, CBS, ABC, and—worst of all by far—PBS, they are as uninterested in his political fortunes as the former are invested in them. Obama has always recognized that in foreign affairs, he is on his own. That was made clear early on when the International Olympic committee said no to Chicago as a site for the summer games. That was truly a shock to our Thespian-in-Chief. He avoids even thinking about foreign affairs except when he must, when sheer improvisation takes over as in the Syrian disaster of last summer.

    If you couple his managerial incompetence with what by now must be acknowledged to be bone-deep laziness, a let’s-knock-off early-and-hit-the-showers attitude that has been quite marked since his stoner years, you have the caricature of a chief executive we have saddled ourselves with.

    • EllenO

      For the record Mead voted for self absorbed Obama, not once, but twice.

      Given that, you wonder about Mead’s broader judgement and assessment of other matters political. Anybody who has ever bought a second hand car could spot the glib Obama rhetoric – promises built on thin air. Apparently, not however, Dr Mead. Perhaps academics really are out of touch with the world.

  • Peter Burman

    When Obama immediately recognized the new Hamas/Fatah government he sent a strong message to US allies around the world: American cannot be trusted to keep its word and America does not respect its allies. Obama harmed America beyond just the opinions of those in the Middle East.

  • Winston

    Wait. So you are saying that a determined policy of weakness, incoherence, kissing up to enemies and betraying allies might not work? Who knew?

  • Arkeygeezer

    WRM You have 70 comments to this post. Most of them are reasonably thoughtful and cover the gamut of opinion on the subject. Thats the reason that a lot of us read this blog religiously.

    To paraphrase Voltaire, “I may disagree with what you say Sir, but I will defend to the death your”… right to be such a blithering idiot!

    Keep up the good work.

  • Kevin

    The rest will occur in January 2017, if we make it to then…

  • lukelea

    “If, for example, as America stepped up support for the Syrian rebels, President Assad suddenly found that the climate in Damascus was no longer salubrious and went shopping for a retirement home on the shores of the Black Sea, we would hear much less about a crisis in American leadership. ”

    Considering what happened in Egypt, that is debatable.