October 9, 2013
During the first few years of Barack Obama's presidency, scholars from around the international relations realm wondered in print and on air what President Obama's grand strategy would be. Scholars such as Rosa Brooks and Daniel W. Drezner wrote pieces either claiming that he needed one or asking if had one. Well if these scholars would take an honest look at Obama's foreign policy since 2009, and gave their readers an honest answer about that foreign policy, they would come to the conclusion that Obama not only has a grand strategy, but that it is centered on diminishing the role that the US plays as the lone super power on the planet.
There is little doubt that Democrats have sought to curtail US power on the global stage since the end of the Cold War. People like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who called the US a "hyper-power", and Professor G. John Ikenberry, who developed a line of thinking in foreign policy circles predicated on the idea that the real show of strength is diminishing your willingness to use it unless it is for humanitarian operations, have all put forth efforts to see to it that the US not be able to lead in a unipolar world. President Obama is just another name on the list of those willing to curtail US leadership in the world with the great exception of being the most successful.
From the opening moments of Obama's administration in 2009, he sought to curtail US leadership in the world. In his speech in Cairo, in front of a group that included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, he essentially laid out his plans to lessen the US presence in the Middle East. Under the guise of ending two wars began by his predecessor, President Obama told the audience in Cairo that the US would withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq and does not wish to have permanent military bases there. This was in the very beginning of Obama's administration, so how has his downgrading the US presence in the world played out?
The first real display of Obama's grand strategy of ending US dominance of global issues was during the "Arab Spring" when his administration seemed to have been caught flat footed by the events and allowed for a long-time ally in Hosni Mubarak to be deposed by protesters in Egypt. By waffling back and forth over whether or not to back the protesters, President Obama displayed before the world that the US would be an indecisive leader in the international community.
The next example was President Obama's handling of the Libyan revolution. When Muammar Qaddafi was on the verge of crushing the rebels in Benghazi, President Obama crafted the term "leading from behind" by urging a coalition made up of predominantly European NATO partners to do the heavy lifting of bombing Qaddafi's forces while the US supplied the bombs, although, due to the economic failings of Europe, the US had to do most of the bombing, too. In the end Qaddafi was killed by a rabid mob and four US civil servants would be next in September 2012.
Then there is the Syrian debacle where the President of the United States denied having laid down a "redline" about Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against an insurgency that has been going on for two years in Syria. Obama declared there to be a "redline" and then when it came time to back up the threats about crossing them, he balked and had to rely on the diplomatic way out presented to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now the talk about town is that the government shutdown is a sign of the world's leader becoming paralyzed by domestic infighting. This has been followed to and tied to the demands that the debt ceiling be increased without concession or risk default.
All of this would be grounds for the president, coming off of his successful campaign for a second term, to be sitting with a 15 percent approval record and already being declared a "lame duck" president. However, he is not and that is because he has successfully positioned himself outside of the scope of complicity for these events all the while he is getting exactly what he wants.
The US has been diminished in the view of the international community, both friend and foe. The US cannot lead the world because the person leading the US does not want the US to lead. President Obama has been called a "post-partisan" president, but in reality what he is is a post-American president leading the US into a very limited role on the global scene. All in all he has been the most successful Leftist president to ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
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