Obama's Fire Sale Foreign Policy
President Obama's final stretch in office -- filled, as he promised, with "interesting stuff" -- has become an extravaganza of "historic" foreign-policy deals, most of them distinguished for making common cause with despotic regimes that are less than friendly toward the United States:
-- The embrace of Cuba.
-- The Iran nuclear deal.
-- The Paris climate agreement.
-- And, enshrined just this past Friday as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, a grand plan in which, under the United Nations umbrella, the U.S., Russia, Iran and sundry others will all come together to produce peace and democracy by June, 2017, in Syria.
On Friday. Obama congratulated himself for such feats, telling reporters at his end-of-year press conference: "We have shown what is possible when America leads."
OK, but where is this going? What, precisely, does this brand of leadership make possible?
If we measure success by such UN standards as how many nations have agreed to these deals, Obama can congratulate himself (as he has been doing) on capping his tenure with a bonanza of foreign-policy achievements. Last December, scrapping decades of U.S. policy, he buddied up with Cuban dictator Raul Castro, which got him a historic handshake. This summer, via the long palaver of the P5+1 nuclear talks, he clinched the nuclear deal he had fervently sought with Iran; at U.S. behest this deal was adopted pronto -- and unanimously -- by the 15-member UN Security Council. On December 12, he got his long-pursued climate deal, the Paris Agreement, passed unanimously by more than 190 states. And in the name of ending the havoc in Syria, last Friday he got a UN Security Council resolution which passed -- you guessed it -- unanimously, decreeing "free and fair elections" in Syria within the next 18 months.
But what did it take to produce this festival of unanimity? How does an American president arrive at all these deals, in grand concert with the regimes of Cuba, Iran, China, Russia, or, in the climate case, virtually every polity on the planet?