As the presidency of Barack Obama has evolved, or devolved, as it were, it’s become clearer to everyone that he is little more than an imperial caretaker committed to expanding the American empire. Those who expected a circumspect constitutional law professor to build a Hadrian’s Wall on the Iraqi border and declare the republic overextended, have been sorely disappointed. Instead, proving himself a true foot soldier of exceptionalism, Obama has continued two foreign policy initiatives, one pursued by George W. Bush, the other by Bill Clinton. Despite the puerility of one and cynicism of the other, Obama has followed both plotlines into the political abyss, cementing forever his role in the decline of the West.
The Bush Legacy
The purblind Bush administration was never capable of anticipating the predictable outcome of its desultory Iraq venture, namely that a Shia-led Iraq would instantly build ties with Tehran, further solidifying the Shia Crescent that the U.S. had been trying to undermine for years. Belatedly recognizing the ineptitude of their Iraqi enterprise, the administration settled on a “redirection,” as Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker 2007 article laid plain.
The redirection was basically a plan to rollback the growing Iranian influence that dynamiting Iraq had initiated. The strategy was to back Sunnis against Shias in what would become, under the direction of Obama’s deft hand, a sectarian inferno. Washington sanctioned and aided the Saudi Arabian effort to arm Sunni extremists, launch them into Syria, and provide sanctuary for them in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and even Israel whenever they were chastened by the Syrian military. The immediate goal was to topple the Assad government. The ultimate goal was a confrontation with Iran.
As regards Syria, Obama has hardly wavered from the blueprint. He amplified funding to rebels and constructed the lame rationale that the U.S. was only arming “moderate” forces. (The New York Times employed the term almost as often as it had “enhanced interrogation techniques” in years prior.) Obama then used the pretext of ISIS to send America back into Iraq and to try to channel extremist violence westward into Syria.
In his diligent application of the Bush redirect, President Obama has assembled quite a list of achievements in the Middle East:
* He facilitated the near total dismemberment of Iraq and Syria, for starters.
* He supercharged a sectarian face-off between Shia and Sunni nations–with the Saudis, Turks, and Qataris on the Sunni side, and Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah on the Shia side.
* He abetted the formation of a rudimentary Salafist caliphate on the usurped lands of Syria and Iraq, confirmed by Defense Intelligence Agency documents to have been foreseen and desired by Western interests.
* He disregarded Syrian sovereignty in his effort to overthrow its democratically elected leader, Bashar al Assad, a president with far higher approval ratings than himself.
* He used fabrications and international peacekeeping institutions to overthrow the most socially progressive mind in Africa, Muammar Gaddafi. In so doing, he transformed Libya from the security anchor of northern Africa into a festering filling station for depleted terrorists clans.
* He has taken us back into Iraq and left us in Afghanistan, where some 11,000 troops will burn through $35 billion this year to pursue a failed counterterrorism strategy.
But this is just one of the Caretaker-in-Chief’s many foreign policy achievements. Aside from setting the Middle East on fire, Obama has refocused the Pentagon’s attention on Russia, perhaps the most dangerous shift of all. In this, he follows the blueprint of Democratic mentor Bill Clinton, who conceived of the harebrained idea of reviving the animosities that underpinned decades of hostility between the United States and Soviet Union.