Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy

By | 2018-04-09T14:43:41+00:00 April 9th, 2018|
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The American Left has made it a full-time job to cover for the Obama administration’s mishandling of our national security. This is only possible with the creation of an alternative reality that defies not only the facts but any semblance of common sense.

Do you remember the July 2008 New Yorker cover that portrayed then-senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama dressed in Muslim garb fist-bumping his wife Michelle, who is wearing an outfit reminiscent of the Black Panthers, in the Oval Office with an American flag burning in the fireplace?

Editor David Remnick explained the cover was intended as satire. “The fact is, it’s not a satire about Obama—it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama.”  Always playing defense, Republicans immediately distanced themselves from any such “distortions.” Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the cover “totally inappropriate.” The erstwhile conservative blog Little Green Footballs joined in, actually taking up the Remnick line: “The cover is obviously a moonbat parody of what they think are right-wing ideas about their messiah.”

Despite the fact that Obama’s middle name is “Hussein,” that he spent his formative years in a Muslim country with a Muslim stepfather, that his book “Dreams From My Father” is much about a man with the same Muslim name as his and who was a Muslim, the possibility that Obama might have Muslim sympathies was ruled out of bounds. By the time of the New Yorker cover, entertaining that possibility became akin to a hate crime.

(Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

And it has stayed that way ever since. By and large, people who criticize Obama’s foreign policy from the right have been careful to avoid stepping on the Muslim landmine in order to avoid the accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia” sure to follow.

But the Obama Administration’s relationship to the Islamic world defined that presidency. The results were tragic for the region and for American interests. Donald Trump is trying to fix the mess Obama left him, but these things are not going to be fixed overnight. In the meantime, let’s see Obama for what he is.

We have been told again and again that the crowning achievement of Obama’s foreign policy was the Iran deal. So let’s begin by considering it.

The “deal” was an enormous gift to the mullahs who rule Iran. It was a multi-billion-dollar reprieve in cash and sanctions relief, and it saved Iran from an accelerating economic collapse that imperiled the mullahs’ grip on power. The terrible condition of Iran’s economy, ground down by the sanctions and the mullahs’ costly efforts to become the regional hegemon, presented a tremendous opportunity to put an end to the mullahs’ rule, much as Reagan had put an end to the Soviet Union. Instead, the “Death to America” mullahs were granted a reprieve, and the opportunity to bring down an Islamist regime splattered with American blood was lost.

Consider, too, the strange case of Obama and Egypt. There, instead of trying to prop up the regime, Obama rallied to the cause of regime change. If Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had succeeded in maintaining their grip on power, they would have added Egypt to the Islamist column. Fortunately for America’s interests, Morsi’s rule was short-lived. The Egyptians saved themselves from rule by the Muslim Brotherhood, and they did so with the Obama Administration’s active opposition.

Egypt was for a time on the verge of becoming an Islamist state, and for a while, ISIS actually succeeded in creating a new Islamist state in the Middle East. At its peak, ISIS ruled over a nation-sized territory carved out of Iraq and Syria, benefiting from vast oil revenues and an influx of jihadi volunteers from the East and the West. This new Islamist state came into being during the Obama years. Instead of acting quickly and forcefully to crush the ISIS state before it gained traction, Obama dismissed concerns about ISIS, calling it a “JV team.” That Obama’s eventual efforts against ISIS were half-hearted, as seemed obvious at the time, was made clear by how swiftly the territory ISIS controls diminished toward a vanishing point once America got a new president.

Shall we also consider Libya, where Obama “led from behind?” The result was the murder of Gaddafi, the collapse of the state, and political chaos. Gaddafi’s weapons stockpiles and vast income from the oilfields fell into the hands of various warring groups, some of them sworn to the Islamist cause. The chaos continues, but it is possible that one or more Islamist states may yet emerge from the destruction of Libya.

But the deal that makes Obama most clear to plain common sense is an arrangement he made with the Taliban. The Iran deal was a gift to the mullahs; the Bergdahl deal was a gift to the Taliban. Obama swapped an American deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, for five high-ranking members of the Taliban who had been captured and were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. While it does not approach the geopolitical significance of the Iran debacle, this one is easier to understand in simple human terms. It was a giveaway, plain and simple.

Whatever the intention was, the New Yorker cover seems to have been on target. That would make it one of those pictures worth a thousand words.

Photo credit:  Chris Hondros/Getty Images

About the Author:

Robert Curry
Robert Curry serves on the board of directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea (Encounter Books). He also serves on the board of distinguished advisors for the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.