We who follow U.S. foreign policy, and especially the Middle East, sometimes get asked whether Barack Obama is a community-organizing naïf way out of his depth or a brilliant ideologue who knows exactly what he is doing. Is he inept or purposeful? Does he see his foreign policy as a failure or a success? My reply:
Not one or the other but a bit of both. He is a leftist who sees the imperialism, militarism, and corporate greed of the United States as a menace to the outside world. He conceives of his role being to reach out to enemies, reduce America’s cowboy ways, make it one of the pack, and render the world a safer place.
But he is also the president on whose watch we find not security but anarchy and despotism throughout the world. Reduced American influence has lead to revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, renewed civil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, conflagrations in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, Russian military intervention, and unfathomable future troubles from a nuclear Iran.
In other words, Obama’s policy is purposeful but the consequences are not.