Barack Obama is purposefully engineering the decline of America on the world stage. He very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting unexceptional America down to size.
Published in The Jerusalem Post, Friday, September 20, 2013.
Puzzled by the contradictions and fumbles in US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, commentators have taken to calling him ham-handed or weak. They ascribe Obama’s zig-zagging on Libya, Egypt, Iran and especially Syria, along with his failed reset in relations with Russia, to indecision or inexperience; to incompetence or infirmity.
Yet Obama is none of these frail things. He is neither naïve nor inept. He is quite decisive when he wants to be, and very able in advancing his agenda when he really wants to hit the goal. He is, by all accounts, a very focused man.
Moreover, calling Obama maladroit does not sufficiently explain his mishandling of Russia or the Middle East. It fails to account for his apparent indifference in the face of America’s decline. Why has Obama so wantonly and care-freely allowed America’s international reputation and awesome global power to waste away?
The answer is that Obama is clearly out to emasculate America; to doggedly drag it down, purposefully so. He seeks the weakening of the United States on the global stage as a good and necessary outcome. He has set this as one of the key goals of his presidency – and he is doing a very good, skillful job at hitting his target!
In short, the nonchalance of Obama as America decays is doctrinaire. He ideologically intends it.
From day one, Obama has not been comfortable with American leadership in world affairs. He explicitly views America’s past global performance to be arrogant and high-handed; to be militaristic and not completely moral. His wife, during the first campaign, called America a “mean” country. Obama termed America “overbearing.”
Dozens of times, he has made it clear that he views America not as the leader of the world or the free world, but at best as a partner in the community of nations. Obama himself prefers to preen as a “citizen of the world.” That self-definition rolls comfortably off his tongue; being a “citizen of the United States” does not. He just doesn’t like America all that much.
His path, then, is to “fundamentally transform” America’s place in the world; to denude the United States of its overwhelming global power; to strip the United States of its superior position; to drag America down from its imperious perch.
Obama very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that the diminishment of America’s ability to throw its weight around will make room for other, just-as-moral powers to emerge (such as, perhaps, powerful Islamic actors); that the denouement of America will elevate world politics to a better sphere. Don Quixote-like, Obama thinks that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting unexceptional America down to size.
Taking advantage of a war-weary American body politic, and camouflaging his retreat from leadership as a new form of global “engagement” (whatever that means), Obama has proceeded very nicely in wrenching the United States off its traditional, honorable moorings. In five short years, with three to go, he has succeeded in squandering centuries of American might, prestige and credibility.
Over the past month, Obama has granted Putin a gargantuan international victory, given Assad a new lease on life, emboldened Iran and its allies like Hezbollah, and re-energized the morally-bankrupt UN – while playing Hamlet about his own authority to strike Syria and trashing US credibility. He leaves America’s reputation in the world “unbelievably small.”
Don’t assume that this erosion bothers Obama, or is the result of any failing. It is exactly where Obama is leading America, brilliantly so from his perspective – on principle, on target, and on plan.