The entire opinion pages of the New York Times for tomorrow form a circular firing squad on Obama's foreign policy, or alleged lack thereof. Obama's foreign policy, as all acknowledge, is significantly better than Bush's. On the other hand, the world is breaking up into a multipolar world instead of the Pax Americana that we inherited with the collapse of Communism.
The editorial board states that while Obama's foreign policy can be frustratingly cautions, he is doing a better job than his detractors allow.They give a detailed rundown on the successes and failures of his foreign policy. In the meantime, colleges can be too great of an unequalizer for Ross Douthat, instead of being an equalizer that creates opportunity for all. One of the reasons we beat the USSR to the moon was because we poured in record investment in education, which trained our kids in math and science and which got us to the moon.
Frank Bruni says that there has been a change in the eternal optimism that this country once had. Five years of perpetual warfare -- a policy that Cassandras like the UK's Robin Cook and George Galloway and a younger Barack Obama warned against -- can do that. But Obama's solution was to invest six more years into perpetual warfare in Afghanistan. And as Maureen Dowd says in her column, 42 and 45 are overpowering 44; after all, Obama was being too much of a singles hitter. Never mind that Bill Clinton settled for a single on Iraq and his containment policy was working, since Iraq's military was half as strong as it was before the First Gulf War, as Cook noted in his speech denouncing the leadup to Iraq.
Tom Friedman, who was burned by supporting Iraq, is the most charitable to Obama.
But where our allies are either too few or too divided — Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — it requires a much deeper and longer U.S. involvement on the ground to midwife a new order than most Americans will tolerate. And to pretend that we can intervene on the cheap or just from the air is nonsense (look at Libya) and to pretend that Obama’s wariness is just because he’s a sissy community organizer is also nonsense.The old Cold War strategy of containment is no longer applicable; the Soviet Union is no more. There is a power vacuum in our foreign policy, seeing that the Neocon doctrine of preemptive warfare, occupations, and regime change turned out to cost too many resources to sustain. On top of that, Bush tried to have it both ways by passing a massive tax cut even as he was pursuing his policy of perpetual warfare.
Most presidents make their name in foreign policy by taking on strong enemies; but most of what threatens global stability today are crumbling states. Exactly how many can we rescue at one time? I’d love to help Ukrainian reformers build a functioning democracy, but the reason that is so daunting a task is because their own politicians wasted two decades looting their own country, so the leverage required to foster change — $30 billion in bailout funds — is now massive.
I submit that we need a new foreign policy based on internationalism, international cooperation, and warfare as a last resort. For all the hysteria over Putin, Russia is not a clear and present danger to this country. First of all, we should set clear boundaries -- the red line that we drew over NATO allies is totally appropriate. Secondly of all, we should work for some sort of a compromise over Ukraine -- something that will not please everyone, but will offer all sides a way out if they want it. Thirdly of all, we should focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us.
We need to compromise on Ukraine. The Geneva agreement that was signed on April 17th was merely meant to be a patchwork until something more firm could take place. This is a solution that should be, as both the US and Russia agree, up to the Ukrainian people. Here is one possible solution as an example -- All sides cease violence and Ukraine holds their Presidential elections as scheduled on May 25th. Ukraine investigates and prosecutes those responsible on both sides for the mob violence that took place in Odessa. The new President is given six months to facilitate national dialogue with the East and South of the country, create national unity, and initiate bilateral talks with Russia. At the end of six months, elections held in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces with the three following questions -- Independence, Union with Russia, or continuing with Ukraine. Ukraine creates a decentralized system in which each province selects its own leaders rather than the present policy of the government picking the leaders.
There is strong grassroots support for the pro-Russian movement facilitated by Russian special forces and foreign militants. However, these people are not in the majority, according to the polls that I have seen. Therefore, the Ukrainian government and the West have nothing to fear from such a referendum. But even if the outcome is not something they would like to have, it is obligatory for Ukraine to have such a referendum to settle the question once and for all. For Ukraine to refuse to hold elections in Donetsk and Lugansk is similar to what we did in Vietnam, when we refused to hold elections that were certain to put Ho Chi Minh in power. That was a catastrophic decision that set in motion events that led to the Vietnam War. It is not democratic when there is only one acceptable outcome of an election.
Once we have created a peaceful future for all the Ukrainian people, we have a chance to develop an ethic that is based on international cooperation, rather than trying to use the UN as a tool to assert US hegemony. The Security Council is meant to be there when there is a clear and present danger to world peace and security. The only way it will work is if the US, Russia, and China sit down, put their differences aside, and cooperate to address serious problems around the world. We won World War II because we were able to put our differences with Stalin aside in the name of cooperation and defeating Hitler and his allies. We have too many mutual interests, such as terrorism, climate change, and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons to continue the Cold War mentality and spying that has deteriorated our relations with other countries. Boko Haram would be a good place to start.