While Obama may have been adored by the left and left-leaning leaders around the world, his foreign policy record was rife with failure, and he left office with a world more dangerous than when he started. Years of incompetence and appeasement meant that President Trump inherited many bad situations that, as the most powerful man in the world, he’d have to resolve. To put this in perspective, I’ve looked at Obama’s foreign policy record and identified the top five foreign policy failures Obama left for his successor. I think it’s safe to say that when you consider how Obama left things, we should all be thankful Trump (not Hillary) was put in charge to clean up the mess.
5. The failed Russian Reset
Improving relations with Russia was a priority of Obama from the beginning of his presidency, and Biden was neck-deep in that effort. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to establish a “Biden-Putin Commission” to help achieve better relations. Unfortunately, Obama’s version of improving relations with Russia enabled annexation of Crimea, increased presence in the Middle East, and propping up both the Assad regime in Syria and the Iranian mullahs, amongst other things.
Not even our own country’s national security was safe from Obama’s capitulation to Russia.
The Obama administration bizarrely approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s Uranium mining capability, and utterly ignored Russian attempts to interfere with the U.S. election in 2016.
In fact, Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice gave a “stand-down” order in response to Russian cyberattacks in the summer of 2016.
Trump’s position on Russia has been much tougher. He’s imposed even more sanctions, closed consulates and expelled diplomats, armed Ukraine, and increased NATO spending on defense.
Obama’s appeasement of Russia can be linked to other foreign policy failures as well.
4. Syria and the Assad Regime
In August 2012, Barack Obama said that the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria would cross his “red line.” Almost exactly a year later, more than 1,400 Syrian people were killed by the regime with sarin gas. The red line was crossed, and Obama backtracked, playing down his “red line” comment, and trying to pass it off as not his own red line, but the international community’s.
Obama didn’t want to face the music with Syria, because he was hoping to reset relations with Russia—which was supporting the Assad regime.
While Obama failed to enforce his red line and hold the regime accountable, President Trump did not. When a major chemical attack occurred on his watch, Trump responded. Had Obama followed through on his red line, it’s likely that thousands of lives would have been saved.
3. The rise of ISIS
To say Barack Obama dropped the ball by failing to address the rise of ISIS is an understatement. Despite being warned in his daily intelligence briefings, he was quick to dismiss ISIS as a “jayvee team” in order to perpetuate the myth that he had contained the terrorist threat in the Middle East.
Obama’s mistake resulted in ISIS expanding its territory, taking control over large portions of Iraq, Syria, Libya, and throughout the region. But, once Trump took over, things changed. ISIS still remains a threat, but instead of expanding, they’ve been hit hard and lost territory and, thanks to a drastic change in strategy under President Trump, we’ve seen “100 percent” defeat of the ISIS caliphate in just two years.
2. The destabilization of Libya
For some reason, Obama decided to start an illegal war with Libya. They hadn’t attacked us or threatened us, but nevertheless, Obama sent troops there to take part in a conflict with the approval of Congress.
Libyan Muammar Gaddafi was by no means a good guy, but he voluntarily disarmed his country of weapons of mass destruction in December 2003 in response to the war in Iraq, and he was essentially contained. His death in that conflict resulted in the country’s destabilization and enabled the growth of ISIS in the region.
Obama’s Libya policy was a total quagmire, and even Obama described Libya as the “worst mistake” of his presidency for his failure to plan for a post-Gaddafi Libya.
Things in Libya weren’t fixed by the time Obama left office and President Trump needed to work at fixing them. Seven months into his presidency he launched his first airstrikes against ISIS in Libya. Unfortunately, despite the defeat of the caliphate, the civil war in Libya since Gaddafi’s death has presented opportunities for ISIS to make a comeback in the country. It didn’t have to be this way. Libya was contained, but Obama screwed it up.
1. The Iran nuclear deal
To be fair, the United States and Iran haven’t exactly been on good terms for forty years. That said, Obama’s appeasement of Iran, a terror state hellbent on destroying Israel and the West, made the situation much worse. It all comes down to the Iran Nuclear Deal Obama claimed would make America safer, but ultimately enabled Iran to proceed with developing ballistic missiles and their nuclear program.
The deal was so bad that Obama didn’t even attempt to get Senate ratification for it. Multiple violations of the deal were ignored and Iran was never held accountable for those violations, and the money kept flowing. Obama was so desperate to achieve the deal that he didn’t want anything to get in the way of that. Not even an attempted bomb plot on American soil was met with a response by Obama. Violations continued under Trump, who ultimately got us out of the deal, and restored sanctions. The recent attack on Iraqi bases housing American troops were carried out with missiles Iran was not allowed to have and paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars given to the regime by Barack Obama.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis