Will Obama Lose Iraq?
by Tom Donelson on October 25, 2011 at 8:24 AM
Will Obama lose Iraq? This is not an insignificant question, since Obama inherited a winning situation in Iraq, but now he is in danger of making our sacrifice in Iraq meaningless. The goal of the incoming Administration should have been to establish a relation with the new government while allowing a drawdown of our troops, but Obama simply failed to look at the long term strategic thinking in recruiting Iraq in becoming part of a bulwark against a resurgent Iran. Obama dissed Iraqi's and gave them the impression, the correct impression as it turned out, that he was leaving them to their own fate. When nations face such a decision, they make deals with the local powers, and Iraq is doing just that. Instead of a stable Iraq, Obama is leaving the next Administration with an Iraq that may be more neutral and less of a friend.
Obama decided to pursue a grand deal with Iran, and all that did was enhance Iran’s position within the Middle East as Iranians proved to be more adept at playing power politics than Obama. Our position in the Middle East is more precarious than when Obama took office. Egypt is no longer an anchor for our policy in the Middle East, Turkey is turning their back on the West, our relation with Israel is a complete mess and the Israeli-Palestine relations are worse than ever. Iran is in a stronger position than when Obama took office, and Afghanistan policy is in tatters. On the positive ledger, Muammar Gaddafi is dead along with Osama Bin Laden; so gains have been made in our policy of the Middle East, but the possible loss of Egypt as a dependable ally to outright enemy and Obama's mishandling of Iran is overshadowing his victories.
The problem with Obama's foreign policy is that his only successes were mere follow ups to Bush’s policies, but he has failed to design a follow up strategy that is coherent and serves America’s interest. His policy toward Libya is a prime example, for if he acted in concert with some Republicans like John McCain; he would have a bipartisan cover for his game plan. Instead, he ignored Congress and the result was that no one cares or gives him credit for what should have been a foreign policy coup, the elimination of a major tyrant. Going to Congress would have forced Obama to defend the policy to the American people and maybe he would have been forced to think the policy through instead of winging the policy. Right now, Libya is without a government and we have no clue what will take its place. One can criticize the Bush’s policy toward Iraq and Afghanistan and the post war transition, but at least Bush's Administration did give the post Iraq world a thought or two. Obama’s biggest weakness is that he has failed to give foreign policy a thought or two.
Part of Obama’s problem is that his strategic thinking is based on a collective security in which America’s interest is tied to international bodies as opposed to being a nation that is a leader of alliances! The Bush Administration began the process of developing a post-Cold War foreign policy, and while the foreign policy was in its embryonic stage, the beginning stage was being developed. Obama is an unimaginative thinker when it comes to foreign affairs or for that matter, domestic affairs since his mindset is that if government can’t do it, it can’t be done. Obama, like most of his leftist allies, view the United States one of many nations, which is why he was perfectly willing to lead from behind at times.
The world that Obama is living in was predicated. The late Herman Kahn in his 1982, The Coming Boom, foresaw a world in which multiple regional and world powers were rising including Brazil, China, India, and Russia. Kahn's thesis was that United States would lead an economic boom for the rest of the century; which he was right on plus United States would be premier power but new powers would arise including new nuclear powers. On the latter point, his insight is coming true but much of the foreign policy apparatus views the United States as a power in decline as opposed to a power still in charge of its destiny, but dealing with a more traditional balance of power that has existed in the past era. Kahn would certainly agree with the premise that the United States as the lone superpower would, end but he would not view this as the end of America as a Super Power!
The Obama administration would never admit it, but the reality is that Obama, along with much of the foreign policy apparatus, views his job as managing our decline as opposed to maintaining our power in a new world. Decline is a choice, and Obama is choosing decline.
Obama's goal is to transform America into another European social democratic state, a bigger version of France or Greece; hopefully without riots in the street. This brings us to Obama’s Iraqi policy, Obama's major goal was to leave Iraq simply because it wasn’t his war but Bush’s war. He simply doesn’t care about the end game for foreign policy has been an afterthought for Obama.