Obama’s foreign policy a wide failure

By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/27 19:28:39

The foreign policy legacy of US President Barack Obama is one of failure. His failure is not entirely personal because it is also the failure of the US foreign policy elites that guided him.

An overall judgment of failure may seem harsh, but look at the consequences of US policy. The Middle East is in chaos, Europe is destabilized by the chaos in Ukraine, and Asia is impacted by tensions.

It is no wonder that the international situation is in a state of transition. But it is not the transition Washington wanted to maintain its global dominance. 
Washington elites are wedded to an updated Cold War vision of the world.  The old post-WWII bipolar global struggle was between the US-led Western bloc and the Eastern bloc. But nowadays the bipolar struggle is between the bloc of so-called democratic states and the bloc of non-democratic states.

The dominant bipartisan elite consensus driving the Obama administration foreign policy was formed during the years of the preceding George W. Bush administration, which itself plunged into foreign policy failure.

If this consensus is examined carefully, the failure of the Obama administration is understandable. The main elements of the consensus formed in the waning Bush years are still the basis of US foreign policy and geopolitical perspective.

The key element in US policy is seen to be the strengthening of the NATO alliance and the US-Europe transatlantic relationship. This is to attempt to maintain the global dominance of the US and the Atlantic community in a situation in which the reemergence of Russia and the rise of China are perceived as challenging Western hegemony.

The Middle East policy of the Obama administration simply carried forward the Bush regime change policy in Iraq and expanded it across the Middle East and North Africa with catastrophic results. 

We have the Syrian war, the chaos in Libya, and the intensified spread of international extremist Islamist terrorism.  Egypt was destabilized by the Obama administration's support of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. 

North Africa and the Saharan and sub-Saharan zones have seen increased terrorism as a result of the regime change policy in Libya. With the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, new waves of terrorism in North Africa and in the region were unleashed.

Obama's Middle East policy supports extremist Islamist terrorist organizations because they are fighting for the regime change in Syria that Washington wants. It is no wonder that the Islamic State emerged in the chaos triggered by the US in the region.

To confront Russia, the Obama administration supported regime change in Ukraine. The concept here was to push Western European influence not to mention NATO closer to the Russian border. Such a provocation was bound to elicit a firm response.

The re-assertion of Russian control over Crimea was inevitable. Increased Russian vigilance and defensive preparations are a logical consequence of this Obama administration failure in Eastern Europe.

Given the rise of China, Washington's bipartisan elite consensus drove the Obama "pivot" to Asia. This policy is also an extension of Cold War geopolitics. 

When the pivot was breathlessly announced Washington moved systematically. The obsolete "hub and spokes" Pacific alliance structure was to be strengthened with Japan as the key regional ally. Relations with the Philippines spoke were to be strengthened. Vietnam and Myanmar were to be drawn to Washington's side against China.

Broader geopolitical roles for Japan, Australia, India, and the US were floated to cut against China's rise. US military pressure in the South China Sea and harangues about the East China Sea fall into this broader strategic vision. Included are various air-sea battle concepts and the shift of 60 percent of the US military force to the Pacific, all fueling increased tensions. Obama's lame duck status and the US preoccupation with the November elections do not allow much time to repair a failed US foreign policy.  A new president must change the course of the US ship of state.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

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