January 6, 2014

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: 2013: The World’s Biggest Losers. Shockingly, #3 is “The Obama Administration.”

Excerpt: “What a difference a year makes. The US has been forced to pivot back to the Middle East, and not because things were going well. Al Qaeda is back, having successfully morphed from a group in the AfPak hills into a global movement with affiliates, imitators and fellow travelers wreaking havoc from Africa to Central Asia. Libya is a horror show. Assad bounced back. US prestige and credibility took a hammering in the Syrian air strike fiasco. Iran is on a roll in the Middle East, and this very risk-averse administration is now engaged in two desperate, against the odds negotiating efforts. Somehow, the Obama administration has managed to put itself into a position where unless it achieves the near-impossible (peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, resolution of the US-Iranian standoff) in a few months, it will be judged a definitive failure. One never wants to be in this kind of a position if only because the more desperate you are to reach an agreement, the higher the price of the agreement becomes. Meanwhile, Japan’s new assertiveness in Asia is more like what the White House hoped the pivot to Asia would avoid, rather than an example of what it hoped to achieve.” So much for Smart DiplomacyTM I guess.

Oh, right: “Making things worse is a sharp drop in the credibility of the administration with allies and opponents alike. This is largely a self-inflicted wound; the White House has too often engaged in a deeply counterproductive approach.”