Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum. The aphorism applies as equally to politics as it does to science. Back in 2011, the New Yorker had this insightful article on Obama’s disinterested foreign policy:
Nonetheless, Obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. One of his advisers described the President’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” That’s not a slogan designed for signs at the 2012 Democratic Convention, but it does accurately describe the balance that Obama now seems to be finding. It’s a different definition of leadership than America is known for, and it comes from two unspoken beliefs: that the relative power of the U.S. is declining, as rivals like China rise, and that the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. Pursuing our interests and spreading our ideals thus requires stealth and modesty as well as military strength. “It’s so at odds with the John Wayne expectation for what America is in the world,” the adviser said. “But it’s necessary for shepherding us through this phase.”
The net result of Barack Obama’s “leading from behind” has been a vacuum that our adversaries have rushed to fill. Three nations in particular — China, Russia, and Iran — have used our lack of attention to arrogate power and influence to themselves. China, of course, is in a class by itself. Its size, wealth, and location would indicate to a sane administration that it needs close attention. While China acts in its own self-interests it doesn’t do so recklessly. What is more troubling is the pairing of Russia and Iran as allies in rolling back American influence. When coupled with Obama’s hubris and bonejarring naivete this alliance is potentially disastrous.
In 2009, the Obama administration decided, in its usual too-clever-by-half way, that Russia was a logical intermediary to negotiate with Iran to curtail their march towards status as a nuclear power.
In February, President Barack Obama sent a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev seeking greater cooperation from Moscow for addressing concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The letter indicated that the U.S. deployment of a missile defense system in eastern Europe opposed by Russia would hinge on progress in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Responding to early press reports suggesting that the letter offered Moscow a trade of the missile defense system for cooperation on Iran, Obama clarified during a March 3 press conference that “what I said…was …read more