Obama's Foreign Policy Is Most Like This Former President'sRoundup
... Journalist Thomas Friedman recently asked in The New York Times, "Who Had It Easier, Reagan or Obama?" The Republican was a man of the Cold War. The conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union represented one form of world order, a bipolar era.
Meanwhile, Obama is a man governing at a time of global chaos, a "non-polar" era. Obama's world has multiple power hubs, new and old, that coexist without yet having established the rules of a game that non-state actors constantly work to disrupt, as ISIS has done. "In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now," Friedman concluded.
What has fashioned the president's foreign policy is that of his immediate predecessor, Republican George W. Bush. All of Obama's reflexes are the opposite of "W's" legacy. Including the will to remove the United States from two theaters of combat, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the conviction that there are limits to what the American military machine can accomplish, particularly in conflicts as complex as those of the Middle East. On the basis of the last 15 years, who could argue otherwise?
A hesitant warrior, Obama is at a key moment in his presidency: He's going to war. Worse, he's doing it in this accursed region from which he wanted to withdraw the U.S. Worse still, he has set himself an objective too ambitious to be achieved from the cockpit of a fighter jet. Instead, finishing off ISIS would no doubt require a ground intervention and the reconstruction of two states in ruins, Iraq and Syria. The task of a generation.
But he can weaken ISIS, contain its expansion, and by doing this, limit the scope of the massacres in progress and the number of miserable people condemned to exile. He acts with caution when he announces a long-term operation. More importantly, he is involving the Arab nations in this aerial campaign, which is no small diplomatic success. America, and particularly "W," has much to atone for in the region. But the president is convinced, with reason, that the future of the Arab world is first and foremost the affair of the Arabs.
In all this, if Obama reminds us of one of his predecessors, it is George H. W. Bush, W's father, who accompanied the difficult phase of the final breakdown of the USSR with a certain tact. It's a comparison that's almost a compliment.
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