In recent months, a curious argument has surfaced in favor of US President Barack Obama. His supporters argue that Obama's foreign policy has been a massive success. If he had as much freedom of action in domestic affairs as he has in foreign affairs, they say, his achievements in all areas would be without peer.
Expressing this view, Karen Finney, a former Democratic spokeswoman who often defends the party in the US media, told The Huffington Post, "Look at the progress the president can make when he doesn't have Republicans obstructing him."
According to a Gallup poll from early November, the US public also believes that Obama's foreign policy has been successful. Whereas 67 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama's handling of the economy and the federal budget deficit, 63% of Americans approved of his terrorism strategy. So, too, 52% approved of his decision to remove US forces from Iraq. In general, 49% of Americans approved of Obama's handling of foreign affairs while 44% disapproved.
These support levels tell us a great deal about the insularity of the American public. For when one assesses the impact to date of Obama's foreign policy it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that if the US public was more aware of the actual consequences of his policies, his approval rating in foreign affairs would be even lower than his approval rating in domestic policy.
Indeed, a cursory examination of the impact so far of Obama's foreign policies in country after country and region after region indicates that his policies have been more damaging to US national interests than those of any president since Jimmy Carter. And unlike Obama, Americans widely recognized that Carter's foreign policies were failed and dangerous.
The failure of Obama's foreign policies has been nowhere more evident than in the Middle East.
Take Iraq for instance. Obama and his supporters claim that the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq is one of his great accomplishments. By pulling out, Obama kept his promise to voters to end the war in "a responsible manner." And as the polling data indicate, most Americans are willing to give him credit for the move.
But the situation on the ground is dangerous and getting worse every day. Earlier this month, just ahead of the departure of the last US forces from Iraq, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited with Obama at the White House. Immediately after he returned home, the Shi'ite premier began a ruthless campaign against his Sunni coalition partners in a no-holds barred bid to transform the Iraqi government and armed forces into partisan institutions controlled by his Dawa Party.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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