There’s a devastating piece today from WaPo’s Fred Hiatt on “the effects of disengagement” under Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom. A small selection:
For Obama the tumult in Egypt and elsewhere was a distraction, not a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The West responded timidly and inconsistently, and the moment was lost.
For Russia, Obama offered Putin a “reset” strategy of improved relations. But when it became clear that Putin wasn’t interested — that he wanted to re-create a Russian empire while blocking the achievement of a Europe whole and free — the West again had no strategic response. Obama could have bolstered a unified Europe with military, diplomatic and trade measures. Instead, as Putin wrecked democracy in Russia, annexed Crimea and fomented war in Ukraine, Obama and his European counterparts were reactive and divided.
In Iraq and Syria, Obama’s predictions proved wrong. Without the 15,000 or so troops that U.S. generals hoped to station in Iraq for training and counterterrorism, the United States had no leverage as Iraq’s armed forces devolved into sectarian militias. When challenged by al-Qaeda, the army and the state itself quickly shattered.
Without Western backing, the moderate rebels in Syria are in retreat.
Somebody with some sense in this White House needs to draw a red line behind Obama, beyond which he cannot disengage.
There is somebody left at 1600 with that much — er, that little — sense, right?
The key to our troubles might be in the word “disengaged.” It isn’t only that our policy has been one, as Hiatt says, “cautious, modulated retreat.” It’s also that Obama himself now seems disengaged from the job of presidenting. I can’t remember the last time he made a foreign policy statement having any discernible relationship with actual facts on the ground. He makes assertions, he blames others, he raises funds, he vacations.
Nice work if you can get it, but I dread to think of the mess his successor will inherit.