Obama judged the world safe enough to sharply decrease military spending, and Europe and the Middle East safe enough to justify a “pivot” to Asia. The debate in town was what mission NATO could possibly have once it pulled out of Afghanistan.
Most of all, Obama wanted to concentrate on what he called “nation-building at home.” He told the United Nations last fall that promoting democracy and free trade in the Middle East was no longer a “core interest” of U.S. foreign policy.
The scaling back of ambition resonated with U.S. public opinion. But the effects have not been as hoped.
As the United States retrenched, the world became more dangerous.
And how’s that “nation-building at home” going, anyway?
A wise president would neglect domestic affairs as much as possible while engaging the world as much as necessary.