Obama’s Foreign Policy Worse Than Bush’s

obamPBarack Obama’s handling of foreign policy is worse than or no better than President George W. Bush.

The poll also found that 74% of Americans believe military strikes against Syria would be “unwise,” and nearly half of the country feels that Washington’s permanent political class wants military action more than they do.

According to a Reason-Rupe poll, “64 percent of Americans, including 68 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats, believe President Obama” is as bad as or worse than Bush on foreign policy.

At least 80,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, there are almost 1.5 million refugees, and the number of internally displaced persons has rise to more than four million. As fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement wage the battles that are helping Syria’s regime survive, their chief sponsor, Iran, is emerging as the biggest victor in the wider regional struggle for influence that the Syrian conflict has become… after the Assad regime’s capture of the small but strategic town of Qusair last week — a battle in which the Iranian-backed Shiite militia played a pivotal role — Iran’s supporters and foes alike are mulling a new reality: that the regional balance of power appears to be tilting in favor of Tehran, with potentially profound implications for a Middle East still grappling with the upheaval wrought by the Arab Spring revolts.

The Syrian civil war is badly destabilizing our most reliable Arab ally, Jordan. Lebanon is increasingly fragile. In Egypt and across North Africa the Muslim Brotherhood has gained power. Since Mr. Obama withdrew American forces in Iraq, sectarian violence has markedly increased there, with the hard-won gains from the Bush administration’s surge being washed away. The war in Afghanistan is going poorly, while relations with the Karzai regime are quite bad, limiting American leverage in that nation (our much-trumped retreat of forces from Afghanistan have of course limited our leverage as well). Turkey is struggling to contain a political crisis that has threatened the nation’s economy and paralyzed the government. There are no prospects for genuine peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Libyan people are weary of two years of militia violence that has kept the country in chaos and stalled reform, with the government weak and unstable. And al Qaeda is ascendant in North Africa.

Relations with Russia have fallen off a cliff, making the theatrical “reset” of 2009 look, frankly, cringe-worthy. No, it’s not all Obama’s fault. Putin has sought to belittle the U.S. and humiliate Obama personally, a man he reportedly despises, as part of his campaign to build up his authoritarian rule at home.

Obama dramatically warned Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, as he slaughtered his people by the thousands, that if he used chemical or biological weapons, he would cross a “red line.” The line was crossed and not much happened. Syria is crumbling, self-destructing in a civil war that I, for one, believe could have turned out quite differently if Washington had offered material and diplomatic support for moderates in the opposition. Fears that the opposition would be dominated by extremists became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Syria’s war has sucked in Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militia, taking Lebanon to the edge of disaster and making Iran a major player in a war for the survival of the anti-American Shiite axis — Iran-Syria-Hezbollah — while the U.S., to all appearances, stands helplessly on the sidelines.

In Egypt where America’s foreign policy fiasco is most visible, in Cairo in 2009, where the newly elected Obama, still reflecting the glow of sky-high expectations, launched his campaign to repair relations with the so-called “Muslim World.” His landmark “New Beginning” speech in Egypt was cited by the committee that awarded Obama the Nobel Peace prize. Nobody knew what would happen in Cairo’s Tahrir Square a few years later. But today, the same people who yearned for democracy despise Washington. When Egyptians elected a Muslim Brotherhood president, Washington tried to act respectfully, but it showed a degree of deference to the Muslim Brotherhood that ignored the ways in which the group violated not only Egyptians’ but America’s own standards of decency and rule of law. As tensions in Egypt grow between Islamists on one side and the military and anti-Islamists on the other, there is one sentiment shared by all: Both sides feel betrayed by Washington.

Egypt’s most powerful man, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, said, “You [the U.S.] left the Egyptians; you turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that.”

The awkward dance around whether to call Egypt’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsy a coup made Washington look dishonest and incompetent, especially when Secretary of State John Kerry accidentally went off script during an interview in Pakistan, saying the military was “restoring democracy.” Just as the Arab uprisings were unfolding, the U.S. announced a major new policy, the “pivot” to Asia, with new attention to China’s rising power. But the pivot proved premature. The Middle East demanded American attention with increasing urgency. Then there’s al Qaeda, all but given up for dead, now apparently resurrected. More than a dozen U.S. embassies stand shuttered across the Middle East and Africa.

His failed personal effort to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.

His failed personal effort to negotiate a climate-change deal at Copenhagen in 2009.

His failed efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran that year and this year.

His failed effort to improve America’s public standing in the Muslim world with the now-forgotten Cairo speech.

His failed reset with Russia.

His failed effort to strong-arm Israel into a permanent settlement freeze.

His failed (if half-hearted) effort to maintain a residual U.S. military force in Iraq.

His failed efforts to cut deals with the Taliban and reach out to North Korea.

His failed effort to win over China and Russia for even a symbolic U.N. condemnation of Syria’s Bashar Assad.

His failed efforts to intercede in Europe’s economic crisis.

The Obama’s policies have, by almost every objective measure, failed. And they have failed by his own standards, his own promises, and his own words. What he said would happen has not; and the things he complained about have gotten worse. His incompetence in international affairs is staggering; and in some of these circumstances it will take years, in some cases decades, and in some cases generations to undo the damage, if we ever do.


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