The Corner

Politics & Policy

Fareed Zakaria’s Missing Man

Journalist Fareed Zakaria speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in N.Y., September 26, 2013. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Fareed Zakaria has a major essay in the July / August issue of Foreign Affairs on The Self-Destruction of American Power. His thesis is that U.S. global hegemony died sometime in the last two years. How? There were deep structural forces in the international system that inexorably worked against any one nation that accumulated so much power, Zakaria says. In the American case, however, one is struck by the ways in which Washington — from an unprecedented position — mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies. Making matters worse, he continues, is the America First foreign-policy of President Trump.

Standard stuff. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that a certain someone is conspicuously absent from Zakaria’s catalogue of foreign-policy errors. Zakaria criticizes George W. Bush for the Iraq War (which he supported at the time). He chides Donald Trump for a supposed absence of foreign policy. Yet Barack Obama goes entirely unmentioned. If you were to read this essay with no prior knowledge of American history, you would come away thinking the Obama presidency never happened.

Zakaria’s history is incomplete. It’s also terribly misleading. Obama’s policies were not ancillary to the diminution of American power. They accelerated it. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq created a vacuum in the region that Iran and ISIS exploited. Obama’s refusal to intervene in the Syria conflict early on, when it might have made a difference, and to enforce the red line against chemical weapons he himself had drawn, not only generated a humanitarian catastrophe. These decisions signaled to Russia that it could act with impunity. The result was Putin’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, and deployment of ground troops to Syria.

Barack Obama left office with Russia resurgent, China belligerent, Iran berserk, ISIS alive, and North Korea firing long-range missiles. Surely these things are worth mentioning in an article describing the self-destruction of American power?

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More
Culture

An Insider’s Guide to Italian Insults

The tragicomic irony of Chris Cuomo’s pugilistic outburst earlier this week — cursing and physically threatening a man for taunting him with a reference to the movie The Godfather — is that the CNN anchor reinforced the usual tropes about Italian Americans. We are all wise-guys, goons, and Mafiosi, just ... Read More
Religion

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More
World

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Great Mystery

Kevin Williamson disputes my characterization of his riposte. He writes: I wrote that people can choose what kind of work they want to do, and what kind of services they want to consume, without any help from Michael. Kevin then accuses me of being a stouthearted defender of the “Real America.” If ... Read More