President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been disjointed and even incoherent because he has — since taking office in 2009 — pursued conflicting strategies, mixing his own penchant for less belligerent “realism” with Official Washington’s dominant tough-guy ideologies of neoconservatism and its close cousin, “liberal interventionism.”
What this has meant is that Obama often has acted at cross-purposes, inclined to cooperate with sometimes adversaries like Russia on pragmatic solutions to thorny foreign crises, such as Syria’s chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program, but other times stoking these and other crises by following neocon demands that he adopt aggressive tactics against Russia, Syria, Iran and other “enemies.”
So, we have Obama covertly arming Syrian rebels, many of whom were interchangeable with Islamic jihadists, but then sending the U.S. military back into Iraq to fight some of these same extremists who spilled back into Iraq, the country where they got their start after President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired invasion.
We also have Obama spending years ratcheting up sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program — despite Iran’s repeated offers to accept limits that would guarantee no military applications — and now finding that he needs Iran’s help to broker political changes in Iraq.
And, we have Obama needing Russia’s assistance to resolve the crises with Syria, Iraq and Iran but letting his foreign policy team alienate Russian President Vladimir Putin by stoking a confrontation over a U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, which has seen the U.S. State Department weaving a false narrative that blames Putin for instigating the conflict when he was clearly reacting to provocations from the West.