As the presidency of Barack Obama has evolved, or devolved, as it were, it’s become clearer to everyone that he is little more than an imperial caretaker committed to expanding the American empire. Those who expected a circumspect constitutional law professor to build a Hadrian’s Wall on the Iraqi border and declare the republic overextended, have been sorely disappointed. Instead, proving himself a true foot soldier of exceptionalism, Obama has continued two foreign policy initiatives, one pursued by George W. Bush, the other by Bill Clinton. Despite the puerility of one and cynicism of the other, Obama has followed both plotlines into the political abyss, cementing forever his role in the decline of the West.
The Bush Legacy
The purblind Bush administration was never capable of anticipating the predictable outcome of its desultory Iraq venture, namely that a Shia-led Iraq would instantly build ties with Tehran, further solidifying the Shia Crescent that the U.S. had been trying to undermine for years. Belatedly recognizing the ineptitude of their Iraqi enterprise, the administration settled on a “redirection,” as Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker 2007 article laid plain.
The redirection was basically a plan to rollback the growing Iranian influence that dynamiting Iraq had initiated. The strategy was to back Sunnis against Shias in what would become, under the direction of Obama’s deft hand, a sectarian inferno. Washington sanctioned and aided the Saudi Arabian effort to arm Sunni extremists, launch them into Syria, and provide sanctuary for them in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and even Israel whenever they were chastened by the Syrian military. The immediate goal was to topple the Assad government. The ultimate goal was a confrontation with Iran.
As regards Syria, Obama has hardly wavered from the blueprint. He amplified funding to rebels and constructed the lame rationale that the U.S. was only arming “moderate” forces. (The New York Times employed the term almost as often as it had “enhanced interrogation techniques” in years prior.) Obama then used the pretext of ISIS to send America back into Iraq and to try to channel extremist violence westward into Syria.
In his diligent application of the Bush redirect, President Obama has assembled quite a list of achievements in the Middle East: