Cliff May

Barack Obama has been taking a lot of heat for acknowledging he doesn’t “have a strategy yet” for dealing with the jihadis butchering Iraqis, Syrians, Christians, Kurds and Yazidis while in their spare time attempting to weaponize bubonic plague for use against others on their extensive to-kill list.

But perhaps the president deserves at least faint praise for recognizing, albeit it reluctantly and belatedly, that the most significant global security threat of the 21st century requires more serious attention – and a plan.

The Islamic State is only one expression of that threat: Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, a still-growing number of regimes and groups has adopted what British Prime Minister David Cameron last week called “a poisonous political ideology that I believe we will be fighting for years and probably decades.”

My recommendation for Mr. Obama: Go back on vacation. And between rounds of golf (far be it from me to begrudge him that!) take along a copy of the soon-to-be-released “America In Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder” by Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist of the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Stephens begins by observing that “there is a new foreign policy divide in the United States,” one that cuts “across traditional partisan and ideological divides. It’s no longer a story of (mostly) Republican hawks versus (mostly) Democratic doves.”

Instead, neoisolationists (the kinder term would be non-interventionists) are squaring off against internationalists. The former believe the United States is “badly overextended in the world and needs to be doing a lot less of everything – both for its own sake and the rest of the world’s good.” The latter “believe in Pax Americana, a world in which the economic, diplomatic, and military might of the United States provides the global buffer between civilization and barbarism.”

Mr. Obama is clearly of the neoisolationist persuasion. He believes that America “cannot police or solve every problem across the globe.” But those are not his words: That phrase comes from an op-ed last week by Sen. Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential contender in 2016.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.